Adventure awaits, strive for it

Big Change Project Breakfast

“How can I, in really simple terms, explain this to my network?”

This request, put forward by one of our Strivers at last week’s Big Change Project breakfast – is one we’ve been giving a lot of thought to at STRIVE HQ.

The breakfast brought together a group of this year’s Strivers to meet each other, share training stories (or remind themselves that they really need to start!), and hear from some of the projects Big Change is currently supporting. With so many wonderful people in the room, the energy was extraordinary – and we came away inspired and excited about the challenge this September.

But this question – asked after the panel discussion between Matt Hood (Institute for Teaching), Kiran Gill (The Difference) and Jen Lexmond (EasyPeasy) – has really stuck with us. The issues we’re trying to make a difference to, and the system as a whole, are massively complex – and for Strivers raising money, explaining this can be almost as much of a challenge as STRIVE itself.

So the following post is dedicated to your mum, your little brother, your aunt’s friend’s sister… and anyone else who needs to know more about why Striving matters…


Remember when you were at school? Yes, it was probably annoying at times – and maybe you really hated double chemistry on a Tuesday. But whether you realised it at the time, your education plays a vital role in setting you up for life.

Currently our education system has some problems – meaning lots of children are not being set up to thrive in life. Big Change wants to help solve these problems by preventing them from even occurring, rather than performing triage later.

We think the best way to solve these problems is with new, innovative solutions. “We bet on brilliant people who have a great idea”, explains Essie North, MD of Big Change “unless we support innovation, change will not happen”. This means finding great ideas, supporting and funding them to prove they work, and then helping them secure sustainable funding so they can scale nationally.

This year’s Virgin STRIVE Challenge is aiming to raise over £1 million to help fund up to 10 more of these brilliant ideas – and solve more problems in education.

Great, right? But what are the problems we’re talking about?

We’re looking at areas like school exclusion. Did you know that the majority of the prison population were excluded from school? And the majority of children who get excluded tend to have mental health problems – making it highly unlikely they’ll ever thrive? We don’t think this is ok.

Then there’s teachers. A great education requires great teachers. But teaching in the UK is facing a major crisis, which ultimately means young people aren’t getting the education they deserve. 40% of new teachers leave within 5 years of qualifying and huge numbers turn to medication to help cope with the stress. We want to support teachers so they don’t burn out or quit the profession and are able to continue developing themselves throughout their career.

But even before school, problems can occur – children who don’t play or talk enough at home are at a massive disadvantage when they start school. Your brain is 85% developed by the time you are five – and not all children get the best start. We want to support parents and care givers to this really well, so all children can get the most out of school when they start.

The Difference, the Institute for Teaching and EasyPeasy are great examples of projects Big Change is working with to address these areas. And we want to fund even more.

That’s why we need to STRIVE. Without funding from STRIVE we can’t help find and grow more of these great ideas.

This year’s challenge will fund the next set of Big Change projects – and ultimately improve the life outcomes for so many young people. So let’s dig deep, raise lots and make as many Big Changes as we can!








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