The Education Foundation is a UK education reform lobby group, with a particular focus on education technology as a driver of reform.
Founded in 2011, it describes itself as the 'UK’s ﬁrst cross party, cross sector education think tank, with a passion to help create a more open and connected education system.'
Links to US education reformers
The Foundation has ties with the education reform lobby in the US, from whose experience it is keen to learn.
Co-founder Ty Goddard was visited in London by American lobbyists to discuss strategies on ‘growing the UK education reform movement’. Among those visiting was a lobbyist from the Foundation for Excellence in Education. This is an organisation that aggressively promotes online schools. It is financed by, among others, Pearson and Amplify, News Corp's education arm. The foundation is run by Jeb Bush. It has come in for criticism, primarily for working with US public officials to write education laws that could benefit some of its corporate funders, and been accused of providing ‘a dating service for corporations selling educational products – including virtual schools – to school chiefs’. The Education Foundation's Ty Goddard, though, sees Bush as a ‘pioneer’.The US delegation spent their time visiting UK academies and meeting with senior Department for Education officials. They even had a policy discussion in Number 10.
The Education Foundation also hosted a meeting of twenty-five education reform lobby groups in Washington, part-funded by the British government. Again, the purpose was to learn lessons from their US colleagues on how to secure system reform and introduce more ‘innovation’ to schools. It included some familiar names in the US reform lobby: Democrats for Education Reform, StudentsFirst and the Foundation for Excellence in Education. Advocacy group Education Reform Now is also on Goddard’s radar. Its logo is used to promote his Foundation’s ‘Education Reformers of the Year’ initiative.
The Foundation hosts an incubator programme for educational technology start-ups. It was set up in Match 2013 in partnership with Tech City UK, to help build the 'edtech startup ecosystem' in London and across the UK. It also runs regular edtech club networking events.
Promoting coding in schools
NESTA; the Foundation is a partner in NESTA's Next Gen Skills program to promote coding skills in schools. It is also an advisor to the Year of Code project, government-backed scheme promoting programming.
Facebook for Educators programme
In 2013 the Foundation delivered an education programme for Facebook. This included researching and writing the first Facebook Guide for Educators,supporting a hackathon event with Facebook and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2014 the Foundation is helping to create a Facebook for Educators network of schools, colleges, and universities, plus an online toolkit. It will also help roll out the Facebook for Educators programme internationally.
Bringing edtech to Westminster
The Foundation runs a space it calls a 'Learning Lab' close to Parliament where it hosts events, showcases edtech products.
The Foundation's 'Teacherlab' project is a school-based centre where teachers can test new ideas
Education Reform Summit
The Foundation hosts an annual, high profile Education Reform Summit. The aim is to 'bring together educators and reformers from across the UK, Europe, USA and around the world.' It hopes to 'build consensus about where reform should go next, and inspire people to create change on the ground.' The 2015 Summit was supported by the Mayor of London Jigsaw 24, Edge Foundation, Cambridge University Press, NCFE, Blippar, University of Southampton, Showmyhomework, and Teachboost.
The Education Foundation's corporate partners from 2011-2016 have included:
- Google: sponsor of the Foundation's first birthday party
- Sony Playstation
- SMART Technologies
- Cambridge University Press
- Lloyds Bank
- McKinsey, for which the Foundation hosted an event
- Rosetta Stone
- Jigsaw 24
- TextHelp and
It says it is funded by charitable foundations and leading businesses through its research, sponsored events and specific projects.
Other funders previously named on its website include:
- European Electronique, which co-sponsored with Samsung the Foundation's 2014 report into Edtech: Technology in Education, a system view'.
- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which co-sponsored an education ‘hackathon’, aimed at building experimental apps for schools.
- Ty Goddard, co-founder
- Ian Fordham, co-founder and Director of the Foundation's Edtech Incubator; he was a member of the government's Education Technology Action Group (ETAG).
- Edtech UK
- Anthony Seldon and Wellington College; Seldon was an adviser to the Foundation. He is outgoing head of the elite private school, Wellington College. Wellington’s head of ‘Educational Enterprises’ was also an associate director of the Foundation. Seldon was an adviser to Gove, who, just ahead of the 2010 general election, authored An Education Manifesto 2010–2020 for the Centre for Policy Studies. This is one of the UK’s oldest think tanks, established by Margaret Thatcher to ‘think the unthinkable’ on public policy.
- Nesta (see above)
- Website: www.ednfoundation.org
- Twitter: @ty_goddard / @ianfordham / @Ednfoundation