BIG Education launched

Friday, 20 March 2015

Contact: Neal Lawson: 07976 292 522
Available for interviews and further information

For Immediate use


Two-Year Education Commission Launches the Notion of Big Education

On the same day that the Shadow Education Secretary will say that he wants to move away from ‘the narrow, ‘exam factory’ vision of recent years a unique alliance of teachers, students, parents, local government representatives, governors, international experts and businesses has come together to produce a vision of what is being called Big Education.

As the election looms, education is either ignored or is debated in the narrowest of terms: £9000 fees versus £6000, more free schools or the same number of free schools. The abiding metaphor of education stays the same – a global race in which every country and every person has to become ever more competitive. The best nursery, followed by the best school, the best university all to get the highest paying job. Along the way we learn to compete and to be in debt and our children and their teachers become stressed and anxious in an arms race that can never end. At least once every five years we should discuss if this is right.

Big Education creates the space for that debate – and offers the country a vision of education that is expansive, life long, creative, accountable and coherent. 

The notion of Big Education prepares people for the society and workplace of tomorrow – that is more networked and relational. And the report sets out the policy changes that need to get us to such a vision so that:

  • We learn the right things in the right way
  • National government, local authorities, schools and other stakeholders make the right decisions in the right way
  • We achieve be the highest standards through a new inspection model
  • We have the best educational professions
  • Education, in an ever changing world, is designed for the whole of life

The final report of the Compass Education Inquiry Big Education: Learning for the 21st century can be downloaded here.

The supporting detailed policy appendices can be downloaded here.

The full list of the Inquiry Advisory Council can be downloaded here.

This is what some key people are saying about Big Education: 

“I think this really thorough and extended programme of research and consultation is a really valuable addition to the development of policy. The emphasis on early years which somehow is dropping off the public agenda, and the renewed vision of lifelong learning, are particularly important and should be central to the education agenda during the general election.

David Blunkett MP – former Secretary of State for Education 

Education should be a key election issue. The NUT wants to create spaces for education to be discussed. This report is a contribution to that discussion‎ in which we hope lots of people will engage.

Christine Blower – General Secretary NUT 

“It is timely to see the big questions in education being openly debated. This report makes an important contribution in questioning the aims and nature of our education system, and making suggestions to secure a more coherent system going forward” 

Prof Becky Francis – Professor of Education Kings College London 

“Timid, narrow and impoverished – that has been the nature of much of the debate on education policy in recent years. But now at last this report, Big Education, offers some fresh thinking and opens up the constraints that have characterised so much of the political debate on education in the UK. Big Education dares to believe that education in this country really can be different. 

Dame Jane Roberts – Chair of the Inquiry Advisory Council 

“Solving the global challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, over-consumption and inequalities requires a generation of innovative, critical-thinking, and empathetic young people. As this report makes crystal clear, the current education system is instead focused on producing ‘worker ants and turbo-charged consumers’. Our education system needs a complete overhaul if we have any hope of achieving sustainability.”

Mike Childs – Policy & Campaigns Director at Friends of the Earth 


Note to Editors

  1. The Inquiry took place over two years and involved dozens of policy seminars, papers, expert witnesses and conferences.
  2. The Inquiry Convener was Professor Ken Spours of the Institute of Education
  3. Compass is the home for all those that want to build a Good Society, one that is much more equal, sustainable and democratic. See for more information.

For more in formation or interviews please contact Neal Lawson 07976292522 /

Topics discussed

Share this post