The revolution won’t come from above: young people driving the future with 2020 Education

April 12, 2013 by
Filed under: Fellowship 

Andrew Hadley and his team has set up 2020 Education with support from two RSA Catalyst grants to recognise the powerful work of young people to make a difference in their future.  In this guest blog Andrew sets out the thinking behind the idea and calls on Fellows to get involved:

2020 Education is a movement in the making. In a nutshell it is about showcasing what schools and community groups can do to prepare young people for the challenges facing them – and the world – in the decades ahead.

This initiative has been started by a group of Fellows and others. An RSA Catalyst grant has helped us get the programme off the ground, and we’re now starting to roll it out more widely across the UK and internationally. We hope Fellows will be instrumental in making this happen so we’re calling for the support of everyone who shares our belief that education needs to be more than simply classroom learning and exams.

  • Could a school run its own fair trade coffee business?
  • Could it propagate rare orchids and sell them on the commercial market?
  • Could you link up students from a deprived rural area with the astronauts on the international space station?
  • Could you excite young people about engineering by getting them to build and race electric cars?

We’ve already found examples of exactly these things, and more.


We’re not creating a prescriptive model and asking schools to adopt this (and we’re well aware of the pressure that teachers are under). We’re not setting fixed criteria of what a “2020 Education” project looks like. Quite the opposite: if we want to inspire more people to start something, the best thing we can do is to show them the variety of outstanding examples of innovation already happening in schools and communities, and then let them replicate these ideas or come up with their own. At the same time we will create opportunities for peer-to-peer education among young people , via social media and face to face. And we will show the teachers involved that their projects are not isolated examples but a powerful model of what education can be in the 21s Century.

Projects can be based around all sorts of themes, such as social enterprise; science, technology and engineering; environmental protection or ecology; humanitarian and social issues; intercultural understanding; and more. Broadly speaking, they:

  • are school or community based
  • raise awareness of global issues
  • make an impact locally
  • empower young people through active participation, and so develop employability skills
  • are innovative and newsworthy

So how can you get involved?

First, sign up to the 2020 Education site where you will find more information, including films of individual projects. Then put us in touch with any school, youth group or other organisation you know of which is running an amazing project, or where there are inspiring adults and motivated children who would like to do so. Finally, tell us if you would like to become a mentor to a project (giving as much or as little time as you are able) – or any other way you feel able to contribute.

As Sir Ken Robinson says, don’t expect the revolution to begin from above. With your support, 2020 Education will harness the energy of the people who are already making it happen on the ground.

Andrew Hadley and his team want to hear from you, please send him an email if you can’t find what you’re looking for on the website and remember if you want to get your idea off the ground you can contact me via email or twitter @pickfordrich.  I’m currently working with Fellows in Derby to develop a project that will supply Raspberry Pi’s to schools across the area.  What are you doing?



  • Andrew Hadley

    We are excited and I admit a little daunted by the scale of ambition of this initiative. Advice and involvement of Fellows will be much appreciated. If you can point us towards likely funding, recommend innovative schools to join the programme, link us to other complementary organisations, offer some time as a mentor, or help in other ways, please do get in touch with me. Andrew Hadley

  • Rich Pickford

    Andrew I have shared the blog with a range of staff at RSA Academies. RSA Academy will be looking into how they can connect it with their post 16 work in school. Where can Fellows find out about schools doing work locally to them? Is there a map of the schools and projects?

  • John Harrison Thurlbeck

    Shame that education is just seen here as young people and schools. If it included ‘informal education’ I could point you to a fantastic group that I have just helped to create the UK’s first youth mutual … and maybe one of the first internationally. The company is called Circle Crew for Change Limited; it is a community benefit society focused on providing and enhancing services for young people in the Delves Lane community; it is exclusively for young people and it is led by a 60+% majority of young people 16 -25 years. It is based in Consett in County Durham and is definitely in need of start up support!

  • Rich Pickford

    Hello John,
    Please contact 2020 Education. Their project is about the impressive work of young people and is not totally focussed within school environments. It is about the power of young people to have an impact on the future.

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