Launched in November 2022, the Big Education Challenge was set up by UK-based charity Big Change to fund innovators with bold ideas, and the potential to transform education and learning. Today, the Challenge announces its 15 finalists.

Over the next six months, the finalists – 13 of whom are aged 18 to 25 – will be supported to develop their early-stage ideas to transform education. This includes peer learning and coaching from The Young Foundation.  

Helen Goulden, CEO at The Young Foundation, says: 

“We’re delighted to be working with Big Change on the Big Education Challenge. Congratulations to the 15 finalists, whose hugely deserving initiatives show great potential to improve not just young people’s experiences in education, but also their broader life chances in terms of civic engagement, employability, confidence, and wellbeing. We’re incredibly excited be on this journey, supporting change-makers across the country to explore the full scope of their ideas.”

Essie North, CEO of Big Change, says: 

“These inspirational young people, many of whom feel failed by their education, are brave enough to try and tackle some of the most systemic challenges in education, from inclusion to mental health. We couldn’t be prouder to support them on their journey.”

Today’s 15 finalists were selected from more than 1,000 registrations and 281 submissions from across the UK. They will be supported to develop their ideas ahead of final judging later in the year, when up to six of the finalists will receive up to £200,000 to run pilots of their ideas.

The finalists are:

  1. Andrew Speight, 20, from Blackpool, whose Emoco project helps schools deliver wellbeing initiatives.
  2. Caitlin Glover, 18, from Chelmsford, who struggled with dyslexia and ADHD at school, and has created Cognexus, an app that identifies neurodivergent traits and gives learners personalised strategies.
  3. Clover Hogan, 23, from London, will address climate anxiety and prepare young people for a green economy with Force of Nature.
  4. Dominic Starkey, 24, who is working on the Fidjit Programme, an app offering personalised digital support to young people with special educational needs.
  5. Emma Redfern, 24, from Sheffield, home-educated herself after leaving school due to bullying and anxiety. She founded the Studio Self-Made online education platform.
  6. Emmanuella Okha, 22, from London, has The Big Mouth, providing young people who have been excluded with online drama, music, debate, and mentoring workshops.
  7. Farhad Gohar, 19, from Manchester who became involved in gangs as a teenager and has since founded Potential, supporting young people to develop entrepreneurship skills.  
  8. Gracie Chick, 19, from Essex, who was home educated and is now, along with collaborators, establishing Third Dimension, creating classroom resources that allow young people to discover who they are beyond the labels they are given.
  9. Holly Bazley, 25, from London, struggled at school due to dyslexia and ADHD, and has since co-founded Hormoneia, a game to help people understand menstrual health.  
  10. James Bowyer, 26, from Brighton, is creating TeachersRadar, an AI-based lesson planning system designed to help reduce workload and respond to student needs.  
  11. Jenna Maudlin, 38, from Norfolk, who started The Firefly Project to help young people understand and deal with loss and trauma.  
  12. Jonathan Harper, 41, from Surrey, is launching CanTeam, helping schools offer healthy and cost-effective meals to young people, families, and local communities.
  13. Melvin Riley, 21, from the West Midlands, whose idea, Not So Micro, will campaign for policy reform to ensure that schools are held accountable for promoting racial inclusion. It will also create a training programme for educators.  
  14. Sergio Gosalvez, 22, from London, is building Paige Connect to upgrade braille writers using technology.
  15. Sophie Koumides, 25, from Manchester, founded See Her Potential to empower young girls by addressing gender stereotypes, discrimination, and harassment.

Education & Employment Families & Youth Innovation and Investment Social innovation Big Change Big Education Challenge education innovation Posted on: 31 May 2023


Community research

We are a not-for-profit tackling societal issues with a collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach.

Contact our team

Social innovation

Involving people from diverse sectors to shape game-changing initiatives.

Find out more