09 Aug 2023

Purpose, Power, and Practice: Shaping the conversation on transforming education

A New Education Story report. Source: Salzburg Global Seminar


  • In December 2021, Big Change worked with its global network education experts to create and publish A New Education Story: Three Drivers to Transform Education Systems.
  • The key messages were:
    • To set up every young person to thrive – to prepare them well for their futures – the old ways will not do. It is not enough to tweak or incrementally improve (reform) education. Our new education story must be one of transformation.
    • The three drivers of transformation are: purpose – the goals and outcomes of education; power – expanding who has voice and agency in education; and practice – unlocking innovation that has transformative potential.
  • In creating and growing this research and the story of how to transform education, Big Change has worked with over 40 individual authors, publishing 35 articles on different platforms, and reaching over 17 million people.
  • The content has amplified the perspectives of authors from diverse backgrounds and contexts, in education and beyond, generating high levels of engagement across social channels. 
  • Since 2021, the core ideas in A New Education Story have been echoed by many global organizations who are leading research, policy, and practice on education system transformation, as well as influencing Big Change’s work and strategy.
  • This was evident in the lead up to the UN Transforming Education Summit in 2022, when the UN Secretary General said:“A new approach from the government requires a new approach from all of society, demanding transformative education. Young people will be the heartbeat of this effort, leveraging their voices, experiences, knowledge, and agency.
  • Big Change is now part of a coalition of organizations focusing on the need to unite generations to transform education. We will be exploring the importance of sharing power and intergenerational collaboration by continuing to support new conversations and powerful insight globally, and applying that to our work in the UK.

Co-creating A New Education Story

Published in December 2021, as the world emerged from the Covid-19 pandemic, A New Education Story (NES) was created to provoke conversation and action to transform education systems. Working with education leaders worldwide and a set of complex ideas, Big Change set out to create a clear narrative and framework for how to transform, not just reform, education systems across contexts. 

Our message was that it is simply not enough to “go back.” That to set up every young person to thrive – to prepare them well for their futures – the old ways will not do. 

Our new education story must be one of transformation.

Since then, through intentional work to engage allies and bring in new voices and perspectives, A New Education Story and the three drivers of Purpose, Power, and Practice (the “3Ps”) have become a cornerstone within a growing global conversation about transforming education. Here we try to sum up some of the impacts of this work to build a shared narrative, summarize the key themes and ideas co-created across 2022/23, and share what happens next. 

Huge thanks to all the individuals and organizations who have contributed to and supported this work so far. We look forward to continuing to shape the conversation together. 

“…it’s helped us all come up from our individual pursuits and think about what we need to do together to transform education systems. This was so much needed, and I think has contributed significantly to changing the global education discussion.”

Wendy Kopp, CEO of Teach for All

“Being part of this gives me access to global thought leadership, conversations, and narratives, which I can then bring back to the education ecosystem in India.”

Vishal Talreja, Co-Founder of Dream a Dream

Amplifying diverse voices

A New Education Story has always been an invitation, with a goal of bringing together and amplifying the voices of some of the greatest thinkers and doers within education and beyond and showcasing what transformed education looks like in different contexts. This started in 2020 with a series of 14 articles from 22 authors in education (eg. Pasi Sahlberg, Vicky Colbert, Andreas Schleicher, Alison Peacock) and beyond (eg. Holly Branson, Adam Grant, Simon Sinek, George the Poet) who helped shape ideas for a New Education Story. Having reached 2 million people with those ideas, Big Change launched the second New Education Story Global Insight Series in 2022. We invited changemakers and thought leaders from all over the world to share their perspectives on A New Education Story by taking one of the three drivers (purpose, power, practice) and connecting it to their own work and ideas.

Over the past 14 months, more than 20 individual authors from 13 countries have helped bring the three drivers to life. Through their articles, youth, principals, teachers, parents, civil society organizations, and other thought leaders have presented tangible examples of what it means to transform education in different contexts. These stories demonstrate how education systems can be reshaped to meet the changing needs of students and societies, and set up young people to thrive.

Global contributions to NES: Insight Series (orange) and A New Education Story report (blue).

Changing the conversation and inspiring action

A New Education Story and the most recent Global Insight Series have been making a significant impact on the global dialogue and attracting interest from people and organizations worldwide.

Since the co-creation of A New Education Story, global experts in education research, policy and practice, such as The Brookings Institute, RISE, OECD and the UN, have also acknowledged that unlocking education transformation requires people from across systems and contexts to come together to define new and expanded purposes of education and that to shape new practices and systems, voice, agency and power needs to expand, especially to and with young people.

“We argue that education system transformation must entail a fresh review of the goals of your system – are they meeting the moment that we are in, are they tackling inequality and building resilience for a changing world, are they fully context aware, are they owned broadly across society – and then fundamentally positioning all components of your education system to coherently contribute to this shared purpose.”

Rebecca Winthrop, The Hon. Minister David Sengeh

The content has reached a further 1.5 million people with stories and insights that have resonated with audiences, leading to an exceptional level of engagement on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Many organizations have embraced the ideas presented in a New Education Story, incorporating them into their own strategies and contexts, some of those we know of are UNESCO’s Global Education Coalition, Louka Parry at Rethink Romania and by leaders at global education organizations like ETS

“The three drivers of transformation from the New Education Story report of purpose, power, and practice can help re-wire and reframe the way education is experienced, the way it needs to be, and what it is truly for. […].”

Vishal Talreja and Varsha Pillai

In May 2022, 51 Salzburg Global Seminar fellows came together in a programme centered on the ideas from a New Education Story. They co-created a call to action for policymakers, learners, educators, and parents to intervene in education systems to bring about fundamental and lasting transformation. The call to action was shared at the Education World Forum 2022 in London. 

“The 3 drivers model resonated with our work at Kizazi and it gave us a great framework to work with. We have used the New Education Story in our workshops with our partners, as shared reading and reflection material. When we work with local partners that operate schools or run transformation programs in schools, we introduce the idea of setting up a ‘change team’ (an idea we learned about from New Pedagogies for Deep Learning). This is a team which includes teachers, students, community members and school leadership team members. The 3 drivers, especially ‘power’ as one of the 3 drivers, gave us an entry point to deepen the purpose of this change team as a way to shift agency and ownership of the design process.”

Romana Shaikh, Chief Program Officer at Kizazi

Diving deeper into sharing power

At the same time, Big Change has been applying the three drivers of purpose, power, and practice to its own work, both in the UK and beyond. The Big Education Conversation, which started in the UK, is now a set of global resources to spark inclusive conversations about the purpose of education that is being taken up by 15 partner organisations and across 30+ countries. Our £1m Big Education Challenge, launched in the UK in 2022, is putting financial resources and bespoke support directly into the hands of young people – trusting they have the bold ideas that are needed to transform education and learning. 

And, following an initial partnership with Salzburg Global Seminar in 2022, we are now co-leading a collective of organizations focused on uniting generations and sharing power to transform education so that all young people can thrive. Initial insights from this collective will be shared at side events during the UN General Assembly in New York in September this year, with a range of organisations committing to events and conversations that are truly inclusive and intergenerational. 

“A new approach from the government requires a new approach from all of society, demanding transformative education. Young people will be the heartbeat of this effort, leveraging their voices, experiences, knowledge, and agency. Inclusive and participatory mechanisms to accompany and guide national transformation efforts are also critical. Students, parents, teachers, unions, employers, academia, and civil society must take up their respective roles – with an openness to change.”

António Guterres, UN Secretary-General

Overview of contributions to the 2022-2023 insight series

Hugo Paul, Member of the Youth Empowerment Circle at Learning Planet, France

Hugo highlights how organizations can truly empower young individuals. By fostering inclusive environments and embracing active participation, organizations can tap into the unique perspectives and talents of the younger generation. Paul emphasizes the significance of mentorship, hands-on experiences, and flexible learning methods, offering practical insights for organizations to create a powerful impact and unlock the true potential of today’s youth.

Read the full article here.

Jorina Sendel, Student and Board Member at Lern-Fair, Germany

Jorina presents five strategies to empower young individuals in driving system change. By fostering critical thinking, promoting collaboration, nurturing leadership skills, encouraging activism, and providing meaningful opportunities for engagement, organizations can create an environment where young people can make an impact. Jorina highlights the importance of equipping young people with the skills, knowledge, and support needed to drive change in our society. 

Read the full article here.

Petr Franc, Board Member at OBESSU, Czech Republic

Petr advocates for a transformative shift in education by actively involving students and young people. Through collaboration, amplifying student voices, and co-creation, Petr highlights the transformative power of collective engagement. He argues that dismantling fear and embracing student-driven innovation can contribute to an inclusive and dynamic education system. 

Read the full article here.

Dewina Leuschner, member of the Teach For All first Student Leaders Advisory Council and a student at the Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany

Dewina shares her firsthand experience with intergenerational collaboration and leadership and its potential to create a better world. Dewina highlights the power of bridging generational divides, promoting mutual learning, and fostering empathy. She believes that through shared experiences and collective action, we can build a more inclusive and harmonious future for all. 

Read the full article here.

Valentina Raman, Co-founder YouthxYouth, United States

Valentina explores the concept of weavership in fostering intergenerational collaboration and leadership to transform education systems. She emphasizes the power of building meaningful relationships, promoting collective wisdom, and cultivating a sense of belonging. According to Valentina, by leveraging the diverse strengths and perspectives of different generations, we can shape inclusive, innovative, and learner-centered education systems.

Read the full article here.

Dr. Asmaa Al-Fadala, Director of Research and Content Development at the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), Qatar

Asmaa discusses the transformative power of learners’ agency in education systems. She highlights the importance of empowering students to take ownership of their learning, make informed choices, and contribute meaningfully. Asmaa believes in fostering a culture that values and nurtures learner agency, so we can create dynamic and empowering educational environments that prepare students for a rapidly changing world.

Read the full article here.

Catherine Millett, Senior Research Scientist and Strategic Advisor at Educational Testing Service (ETS), United States

Catherine argues that the present moment is the time for change as history has presented the opportunity to undertake real transformation in education. By adopting innovative approaches, embracing technology, and prioritizing authentic and holistic evaluations, educators can create a more relevant and effective assessment landscape. Catherine emphasizes the need to align assessment practices with the dynamic demands of modern education, empowering learners for success.

Read the full article here.

Russell John Cailey, Managing Director at THINK Learning Studio, United Arab Emirates

Russell explores effective strategies to drive system transformation in education. By fostering collaboration, embracing innovation, promoting teacher empowerment, and prioritizing learner-centered approaches, educational systems can evolve to meet the changing needs of learners. Russell believes that proactive leadership and a collective effort in creating a transformative educational landscape can prepare learners for the future.

Read the full article here.

Franco Mosso Cobián, Co-founder and CEO of Enseña Perú, Peru

Franco explores how to design programs centered around intergenerational collaboration and leadership. He highlights the significance of fostering meaningful connections, collaborative problem-solving, and creating spaces where diverse age groups can learn from and empower one another. He believes that giving students and educators the power to drive their own purpose in education is one of the most important changes we can make in education.

Read the full article here.

Mads Skrubbeltrang, Principal at Orestad Gymnasium, Denmark

Mads shares how innovative design methods and curriculums can transform traditional teaching and learning. Mads highlights the importance of the school’s learner-centric approach, flexible spaces, and emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration. By reimagining the learning environment, Orestad Gymnasium has created a dynamic setting that fosters creativity, critical thinking, and student engagement.

Read the full article here.

Valerie Hannon, Board Director at The Innovation Unit, United Kingdom

Valerie explores the potential of future schools in shaping a better and thriving world. She highlights the need for learner-centered approaches, interdisciplinary learning, and the cultivation of critical thinking skills. Valerie believes that by embracing innovative pedagogies and fostering a culture of curiosity and collaboration, future schools can empower students to become active contributors to a more inclusive and sustainable future.

Read the full article here.

Lukas Slepecki-Dobner, Ex-Head of the Secondary & IB Programme at International Highschool Herzogberg, Austria

Lukas explores the question of how to effectively transform education. He argues that fostering a shared vision, building strategic partnerships, promoting open dialogue, and leveraging diverse perspectives can create a collective movement to drive impactful change in education. Lukas also highlights the power of collaboration and active engagement in shaping the future of learning.

Read the full article here.

Alex Battison, a Senior Deputy Head at Lord Wandsworth College in Hampshire, England, United Kingdom

Alex discovers new ways of knowing and being. Through exploring the new possible directions for the future of humanity, Alex highlights the importance of nurturing curiosity, embracing diverse perspectives, and cultivating lifelong learning. In his article, he also sheds light on the progressive and innovative schools that are disrupting the status quo.

Read the full article here.

Rebecca Crook, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Metis, Kenya, and Kat Pattillo, Co-Founder and Board Member, United States

Rebecca and Kat share five powerful strategies to foster collective impact based on their experience transforming Kenya’s education system. They emphasize the power of building relationships, fostering collaboration, amplifying voices, and cultivating inclusive spaces. Rebecca and Kat argue that by leveraging the collective wisdom and experiences of proximate leaders, we can create transformative change and meaningful impact in education.

Read the full article here.

Bobbi Macdonald, the Senior Partner for Ecosystems Growth and Advancement at Education Reimagined, United States

Bobbi explores the power of intergenerational learning communities in shaping a new narrative for education. She highlights the benefits of fostering connections between different generations, promoting mutual learning, and harnessing collective wisdom. By creating spaces where diverse age groups learn from and with each other, we can create inclusive educational experiences that cultivate lifelong learning.

Read the full article here.

Romana Shaikh, Chief Program Officer at Kizazi, India

Romana dives into the power of personal transformation as a catalyst for systemic change. Drawing on her expertise, she explores how individuals can initiate impactful shifts by examining their beliefs, values, and actions. She emphasizes the importance of self-awareness, empathy, and continuous learning, urging individuals to embrace their role as change agents for a better tomorrow.

Read the full article here.

Franco Mosso Cobián, Co-founder and CEO of Enseña Perú, Peru

Franco discusses the power of agency and collaboration in transforming education systems. Through online platforms and free training, Franco engaged over 1,000 educators in Peru’s Cajamarca region, leading to innovative practices and a sense of ownership among participants. Franco emphasizes the importance of student agency and highlights his virtual leadership program for high-school students, where they drive their own learning and create projects to transform education. Franco believes that empowering students to shape their educational journey is a crucial change in education today.

Read the full article here.

Eva Keiffenheim, Associate at Big Change, Austria

Eva reflects on the United Nations Transforming Education Summit, highlighting the urgency to reimagine education. She emphasizes the need for inclusive and equitable access to quality education, empowering learners, and prioritizing innovation to meet the evolving needs of learners worldwide. The article underscores the importance of collective action and partnerships to drive meaningful change.

Read the full article here.

Caireen Goddard, Senior Director Impact at Big Change, United Kingdom, and Lasse Leponiemi, Executive Director & Co-Founder at HundrED, Finland

Caireen and Lasse offer strategies for implementing education transformation. They highlight the importance of setting clear goals, engaging stakeholders, fostering innovation, and promoting collaboration. By prioritizing learner-centered approaches and leveraging technology, educational systems can effectively navigate change, ensuring equitable and future-ready education that prepares students for the future.

Read the full article here.

Big Change, United Kingdom

Big Change discusses Google’s recent global report, which forecasts emerging trends in education and highlights the importance of technological integration, personalized learning, and skills development for the future. Similar to Big Change’s “A New Education Story,” Google’s report emphasizes the need for educators and policymakers can adapt to the evolving landscape and ensure students are equipped for the future. 

Read the full article here.

Vishal Talreja, Co-founder of Dream a Dream, India and Connie K Chung, Educational Leader and Consultant to Catalyst 2030, United States

The interview with Vishal and Connie is a sneak peek into their recently published book When We Thrive, Our World Thrives. Vishal and Connie highlight the importance of fostering inclusive environments, prioritizing equity, and addressing systemic barriers. By actively engaging and advocating for every child’s well-being and educational opportunities, we can create a more equitable and empowering future. The article illustrates how implementing the three drivers for transforming education systems identified in the New Education Story, works in practice.  (Purpose, Power, Practice)

Read the full article here.

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