Three ways to create education equality

Holly Branson takes a selfie with Jaiden Corfield at a Big Change and 5x15 virtual event
Holly Branson
Holly Branson
Holly Branson's writing
Published on 17 May 2021

After listening to Jaiden, a 19-year-old activist, change-leader and Big Change advisor, at the recent 5x15 event I was in awe of his passion and resilience. In Jaiden’s words:

I have lived in hostels, been involved in the care system. I missed most of primary school and have gone hungry to the point of pain. I have witnessed the destructive nature of addiction. I have lived the life you all write, the life you have researched... As a kid who made it from one of the most deprived estates in the UK, through to attending university and building a school at the age of 19-years-old, I have seen what it takes to build an education system worth falling in love with.

Jaiden Corfield, like so many tens of thousands of kids across Britain, was badly let down by our education system. His life turned around when his grandparents adopted him at the age of 10, supporting him to learn and ultimately catch up with his classmates. He then met the wonderful Ruth Ibegbuna, who in 2007 founded RECLAIM in Manchester, after getting increasingly frustrated at seeing so much wasted potential in young people who were often written off due to their postcodes and appallingly low expectations of their capabilities. I met Ruth a few years ago when Big Change backed one of RECLAIM’s projects. She is such an incredible woman and is living proof that one passionate, determined individual can make a huge difference to so many young lives.  

Now, Jaiden is the co-creator of Rekindle school, a powerful education activist, and an advisor to Big Change, our education charity that wants to transform the education system and set all kids up to thrive in life, not just exams. After hearing his story and his mission to create education equality, I was incredibly moved.

Jaiden speaks on behalf of far too many young people who are being left behind by the education system, so it’s important to raise his voice, and theirs, as much as possible. Please do listen to his story and the three points of change he outlines below, and share the video far and wide!  

Jaiden Corfield on how to create education equality

Here are three ways to create education equality, according to Jaiden: 

  1. Accept accountability: so that we can see how and why the education system has failed, and in order to make it better, everyone in the education system must hold each other accountable for past and present failures. As Jaiden said: “Our government must learn to hold up their hands and apologise for an algorithm that was created to willingly disadvantage certain students and over-predict the grades of others. They need to apologise for refusing to feed young people when they needed it most. Apologise and learn."

  2. Embrace co-leadership: As Jaiden put it: “Remember that young people are living in this system right now. They are the future that your decisions will impact. Invite them around the decision-making tables and listen to their experiences… Do not listen to them as passive or tokenistic gestures, but as an active part of the learning process to understand the things to avoid and the things to improve. Young people are willing to help build a better future.” 

  3. Take care of all children: Jaiden believes we need to dismantle the ‘success before survival’ approach to education, where a student’s grades come before their wellbeing. He put it perfectly when he said: “We overcomplicate a system that has no need to be so complex. This past year has made it noticeably clear that our young people are not getting the support they need. We need better mental wellbeing, so we know how to deal with the stress of a constant cycle of academic pressure. I want to see our young people do more than just survive in this system, I want them to thrive.” 

The 2019 Big Change Impact Event.
Image from Big Change

Thank you, Jaiden, for everything you’re doing to re-imagine an education system where every young person can thrive, and thank you for sharing your story with us all. Please do share Jaiden’s words, because it is a voice we need to hear so much more from. “As someone who knows what it takes to survive in a system that undervalues them, but has been nurtured by opportunities beyond the school building, I can tell you that we can't just build a new curriculum, we have to re-imagine every aspect of it.” I couldn’t agree more Jaiden! 

Find out more about the education-transforming missions behind Rekindle and Big Change here.