The Big Education Conversation Comes To Abingdon

At our celebration event on 6th July at Abingdon Carousel children’s centre in Oxfordshire, we welcomed parents, teachers, local councillors, members of Oxfordshire County Council and the manager of Abingdon Coop. We had gathered to celebrate one of the first milestones in our three year project, working to support relationships to flourish in the South Abingdon community (in partnership with the Carousel children’s centre, Thameside, Carswell and Caldecott Primary schools, Larkmead Secondary school, and the Dalton Military Barracks).



It was the perfect occasion to get involved as a Partner of the Big Education Conversation, a joint initiative between IPPR (Institute for Public Policy Research) and Big Change which was a month-long campaign to find out what parents and young people think needs to look different about education. We captured lots of comments and ideas in response to five thought-starters we posted on the walls, and these are listed below.


One of the main themes that we found was the need for increased flexibility in the system with local solutions, and also a sense that more autonomy was needed for schools to be able to work in partnership with families. Another strong theme was that early years support was crucial and that greater funding was needed for this.


Here’s what attendees told us:


Learning is important for…

  • Being ready for life

  • Understanding the world

  • Us all!

  • My wellbeing

  • Feeling inspired

  • Understanding other people

  • Being confident about what I have to offer

People who have influenced my learning are…

  • The good teachers and the bad teachers

  • My family

  • My best friend

  • Trusted colleagues

  • Ruskin College

  • People who see me as individual

  • My old head teacher

  • Characters in books

I learn best when…

  • I am able to reflect

  • I have time

  • I am inspired

  • I am energised

  • I’m happy

  • I’m feeling calm

  • I have a good teacher

  • I’m not anxious about other things

  • I’m relaxed and happy

What supports your emotional health…

  • Taking time for myself

  • Feeling grateful and lucky with what I have

  • People taking time to listen and understand

  • Chatting to my friends

  • Animals

  • My family

  • Being treated as an individual

What supports the emotional health of my community…

  • Family Centres

  • Relationships

  • Trust and respect

  • Good connections and relationships

  • Working with people who listen

  • Good relationships with colleagues

  • Having a hub for people

  • Knowing we belong and have a voice

  • Feeling heard



Bea Stevenson, Head of Education