This website outlines some of the pioneering approaches to education that have emerged over the years, some of which were established decades ago, others centuries.
However, not all schools and learning communities align themselves with just one approach. They may share some of the same values but all settings are unique and take inspiration from different places.
You can search for schools and learning communities in our directory by approach. Those which don’t fall into a distinct approach type have been given the category of ‘Other Progressive’.
Sadly, most of the progressive education providers in our directory have to charge fees. Many of them aspire to being accessible to all – and regret strongly that they can’t be now – but without government funding, this is currently a challenge.
However, there is some wonderful work being done in the state sector. Have a look at our Voices section for inspiring examples showing how state schools are innovating and thinking outside of the box to reimagine education and enhance the student experience.
There is a growing movement of people working to transform the education system. The appetite for change among parents, teachers, students, researchers, psychologists, businesses and progressive education providers is huge. Between the efforts of the pioneers who have been educating ‘progressively’ for years, the activists campaigning for a socially just education system which realises children’s rights, and changemakers like the ones listed below, perhaps together we can reimagine education and make the vision a reality.
HundrED is a global education non-profit. Their mission is to help improve education through impactful innovations. Each year they select 100 innovations from all over the world and share them for free to provide inspiration for others. They say:
“In a fast-changing world, education must adapt to help children thrive. The world is full of inspiring innovations, but they can struggle to spread beyond their immediate environments. That’s why HundrED identifies impactful and scalable K12 innovations and helps them spread.”
Big Education is an ambitious organisation, set up “to change the way we do education”. They bring together the energy and spirit of schools, teachers and communities to deliver a bigger and bolder vision of what education can be about:
“We believe deeply that we need to educate the whole child – head, heart and hand. And if we do that with innovation and rigour, then young people will be equipped to make a difference to the world.”
Thoughtbox is a global community of educators who are rethinking learning for a changing world. They say:
“The times have changed. Many of our education systems haven’t. As a result, children’s mental health, teacher overwhelm and many other social, emotional and planetary issues are on the rise.
By embracing a whole-child approach, we offer young people the foundations they need to become well balanced, healthy individuals, equipped with relevant skills for life.”
You can find out about their teaching and learning programmes, which are underpinned by a holistic framework to build social, emotional and environmental wellbeing, in our Schools Support section.
Learnlife is a group of changemakers united by a passion to create a new lifelong learning paradigm:
“Let’s positively change education together. We are building an open ecosystem for a new lifelong learning paradigm to positively change education worldwide. We envision that collaborative learning communities will become the problem-solving champions in a world where agility, creativity, and innovation will be needed to solve future challenges.
In Barcelona, we are growing our first learning hub, an innovation community where we explore the new learning paradigm. As more people join the journey, the impact of this growing community is already sparking a wider momentum for change.”
Learnlife has also launched [RE]LEARN: The Learning Innovation Festival which brings together learning innovation thought leaders, change leaders and educators from across the world to share, learn and develop methods to bring about a global shift in education.
School Differently is a collaboration between Square Peg (see our Campaigns page for details) and Independent Thinking (see below), who are questioning whether the education system is fit for purpose and building a social movement for change. This movement is based on the following five premises:
1. The purpose of an education system is to educate the child and prepare the adult.
2. Educating the child goes wider than academic disciplines.
3. Preparing the adult goes wider than the world of work.
4. This purpose applies to ALL children and young people.
5. The current education system requires a new framework to successfully achieve its purpose.
Established in 1994, Independent Thinking is a unique platform for innovative educators and school leaders to share their practice with schools across the UK and globally. Through INSET events, conferences, books and our growing online presence, they are fighting for inclusive, caring, creative and relevant education for every child:
“Underpinning our work at Independent Thinking is our commitment to helping schools never lose sight of the bigger picture of what a genuine education is all about.
Genuine education genuinely addresses issues of agency, citizenship, democracy, decision making, authority, community, critical thinking, advocacy, speaking up and speaking out… education touches everyone on the planet in a way schools can’t. Let’s look beyond the school walls.”
The Raising Free People Network helps families, organisations and corporations to examine, assess, and solve big issues in education, leadership and personal development:
“By tapping into techniques and philosophies from the unschooling and deschooling movements, our network uses independent broadcast media along with live trainings and events to sustain cultures of belonging, equity, and confident autonomy.”
In this TEDx Talk, Raising Free People Network co-founder, Akilah S. Richards examines the ways that we’ve accepted coercive, emotionally and physically damaging habits as a normal part of adult-child relationships. With a focus on deschooling oneself, decolonizing education and exploring radical self-expression, her speech challenges and informs us to push past coercion and fear and walk toward a model for living with children that centres community, addresses social justice issues and believes in trusting and respecting children:
Education Reimagined is a group of educational practitioners, scholars, business people and parents from the US who are committed to “the creation of a racially just and equitable world where every child is loved, honored, and supported such that their boundless potential is unleashed. In this shared fight for justice and equity, Education Reimagined’s work is the transformation of the education system such that learner-centered education is available to every child.”
“We declare a learner-centered future for education. The current education system has proven itself inequitable, inflexible, and inadequate. We must transform this system to powerfully serve, include, value, and love every single child. Committed to justice, inclusion, and equity, we lead with a transformational vision for the future of education in America.”
Futures of Education is UNESCO’s global initiative which aims to rethink how knowledge and learning can shape the future of humanity and the planet. Looking to 2050 and beyond, the initiative seeks to reimagine how education and knowledge can contribute to the global common good. The initiative is catalyzing a global debate on how knowledge, education and learning need to be reimagined in a world of increasing complexity, uncertainty, and precarity.
Founded by Holly Branson, Chief Purpose and Vision Officer at Virgin, the Big Change Charitable Trust is writing “a new education story; Showing a new way is possible”. Their mission is that every young person is set up to thrive… in times of constant change, in life not just exams and to contribute to the world around them. They have three goals:
1. Show a new way is possible:- By 2030, pioneering approaches to supporting young people will have become the new normal and will have become the learning experience of every child.
2. Make education everybody’s business:- By 2030, all parts of society, including parents and employers will be actively involved in supporting young people and schools to thrive as part of local learning ecosystems.
3. Create a new common sense:- By 2030, wider society will have accepted a new and expanded purpose for education and policy, funding and accountability will have changed.
Edutopia shines a spotlight on what works in education:
“Our vision is of a new world of learning based on the compelling truth that improving education is the key to the survival of the human race. It’s a world of creativity, inspiration, and ambition informed by evidence and experience.
It’s a world where students become lifelong learners and develop 21st-century skills. It’s a world where innovation is the rule, not the exception. It’s a world where schools provide rigorous project-based learning, social and emotional learning, and access to new technology. It’s a world where students and parents, teachers and administrators, policy makers and the people they serve are all empowered with a shared vision to change education for the better.”