Young people are driving Big Change

12 December 2023

As 2023 draws to a close, the Big Change team is taking a moment to pause and reflect on all we have learnt and achieved this year.

Our highlights include: 

  • Collaborating to empower young people and show the benefit of intergenerational working
  • Supporting 15 changemakers to test and develop new ideas to help every child thrive at school and beyond
  • Reflecting on hundreds of Big Education Conversations that fed into a national report on the future of education
  • Bringing together diverse thinkers, experts, leaders, and activists from across the world, all who share a mission to transform education and create a “new education story”.

Big change isn’t just about change for young people, it is about change with young people, and we thank everyone who has given their time, talents, and insight to help make this happen. Your support, enthusiasm, and drive to ensure all young people can thrive in life is inspiring. We wish you all a happy end to the year and can’t wait to see what we can achieve together in 2024 and beyond! 

Big love, the Big Change team x

Backing bold ideas to transform education and learning in the UK

We have had the honour of finding and working with 15 finalists in the pilot year of our Big Education Challenge – a £1m prize fund to support early stage ideas and leaders looking to transform education and learning. This incredible group of young people and experienced entrepreneurs have come up with innovative ways to create a more inclusive education system that allows every young person to thrive. There is clearly a big appetite for change. The Challenge received more than 281 submissions from across the UK and we were thrilled to see so many young people addressing the issues that matter most to them: neurodiversity, racism, climate anxiety, food poverty, loss and trauma, creativity and leadership, disability, and identity.

For six months, our 15 finalists (13 of whom are aged 18-25) have joined a bespoke learning and support programme with the Young Foundation which has given them the tools and confidence they need to develop, test, and research their ideas. They have made huge progress and are now ready to pilot.

“The Big Education Challenge is a really great opportunity to meet like-minded people and change the way the education system works. It is amazing to be part of Big Change, and the learning and support programme gives us the time and skills to think about how we develop our ideas.”  Emmanuella Okha – The Big Mouth

A massive thank you to all who have made the Big Education Challenge possible, from the judges, the donors, friends of Big Change, to the inspirational finalists. Watch this space as we announce the winners in early 2024! Hear from the finalists.

From Blackpool to New York, we listened to young people and collaborated with those on a mission to transform education

Through hundreds of Big Education Conversations, both in the UK and globally, we have heard that young people, parents, teachers and employers all agree that in order to truly transform education, we must rethink its purpose. Every group agrees that learning should be for life, not just exams. We are thrilled that these views have been included in a new policy report created in partnership with IPPR, which was launched in Blackpool at a Big Education Conversation and policy roundtable with Bridget Phillipson, MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education, and stakeholders from across the town. Read the report.

We were at the 78th United Nations General Assembly in New York to launch a new guide created in collaboration with 10 global organisations who all believe that uniting generations and sharing power to transform education is not an option but a necessity. This guide makes the case for intergenerational collaboration, it explores definitions, provides examples, and offers a checklist for organisations and leaders of all ages to consider as they design inclusive education events. Read the guide.

“Shared power multiplies strength. By distributing authority and responsibility for transforming education among individuals and groups, you unlock a collective force that far surpasses the sum of its parts.” Aliyah Irabor-York, Founder of Pupil Power

We took a moment to honour the people and voices from diverse backgrounds and contexts in education, and beyond, who have brought the three drivers of transformation – Purpose, Power, and Practice – to life. Through the New Education Story, our global insight series, we have reached more than 17m people globally, take a look at our overview.

Growing our Big Change community 

We were delighted to welcome a new project partner, The New School, to the Big Change community this year. They are on a mission to positively change the way we educate our children in the UK. With small class sizes, multi-age grouping and their own outcomes framework, The New School sets out to create and model an education that allows young people to be heard and participate in decision-making as equals . As their Founder, Lucy Stephens says, “We can only change the outcomes, when we change the rules of the system.”

We took some time to connect with our projects both old and new, hearing about the impact they’ve made so far and what’s next. Kiran Gill, Difference Founder and CEO, The Difference told us:

“Big Change’s willingness to take a chance on a new founder, with a bold idea, has been a huge contributor to the initial and enduring success of The Difference. Five years on, with backing from Big Change plus the amazing connections made through their Pioneer network, The Difference is a thriving charity working with hundreds of schools and helping thousands of students to feel safe, included and successful.”

As early backers of Voice 21 who had ambitious plans to ensure all schools have the resources to give oracy skills the same status as reading and writing, we were thrilled to see oracy skills being taken seriously in Labour’s national policy plans this year. Through Voice 21, we have seen first hand how oracy skills empower young people from all walks of life. As a Year 6 student told us:
“I think it helps a lot in your life because it helps build your confidence to speak in public. Speaking to people has to work or otherwise nothing really happens–or changes.”

We are so proud to have backed over 60 pioneering projects, reached 45k schools and learning communities, engaged over 8m young people, and unlocked £60m in follow-on funds since we began. Thank you for making 2023 a year of intergenerational collaboration.

The Big Change Team

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