B is for Big Picture Education Australia: One Student At A Time

Big Picture Education Australia (BPEA) is a non-profit company aiming to stimulate vital changes to Australian education.

It aims to do this by starting innovative and successful schools and changing the conversation around education. Its philosophy is grounded in educating “one student at a time”.

Below are excerpts from its website. You can discover more via the following link.


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We want to make vital changes in education by generating and sustaining innovative, personalised schools that work with the real world of their greater communities.

We promote the creation of personalised education programs that are unique for each student.

Students all have a personal learning plan which is based on their specific interests.  It is developed with input from the students, their advisor and parents. It includes an individual project.

We need diversity within the education system to meet our young people’s wide range of needs. The Big Picture model aims to address these needs, focusing on individual learning and engaging students on a personal level.

While we are not suggesting that we are the only model that can make this contribution to education in Australia, we do believe that this is a model that works, and has been proven and demonstrated in schools across the USA and the Netherlands.


The Big Picture Company (USA) was founded by educators Dennis Littky and Elliot Washor in 1995 and aims to catalyse vital changes in urban education by generating and sustaining innovative and personalised schooling.

Dennis and Elliot began collaborating with national policymakers to design a student-centred high school and created the Big Picture Company (BPC) as the launching pad for what has now become a national education reform movement.

The first Big Picture School, The Met Center, was launched in 1996 with 50 students in downtown Providence, Rhode Island. Over a decade later, The Met is now made up of a group of eight small Big Picture schools.

There are also nearly 50 Big Picture schools in systems of small schools across the USA, The Netherlands and now Australia, has joined them.

Why Australia?

In 2006, Big Picture Company Australia (BPCA) was established, in partnership with the Big Picture in the US.

BPCA aims to bring the proven benefits of the Big Picture philosophy to Australia through customising the Big Picture ideas and methodologies to suit the needs of Australian students and their communities.

We know we can do this within the current curriculum and assessment context for the same level of funding that each of these students would obtain in larger schools. This can be achieved by establishing systems of small schools.

In Australia, we are seeking to work with other interested parties to customise the American ideas, practices and principles for Australian students and their communities.

While there are differences between the Australian and American education systems, the design principles of BPC (USA), which have been developed over the past 20 years, have strong resonance with the Australian reform context.

Becoming a Big Picture School

Every school is different and you may seek to develop your big picture in different ways.

Some schools are exploring Big Picture ideas with assistance from Big Picture Education Australia (BPEA) to decide if the model is good for them.

Some stop there; others implement Big Picture ideas.

Some schools are inspired to implement a Big Picture academy in part of a school. We are helping them too.

Other communities are converting whole schools to Big Picture and we are committing to join them in journeys that may take years.

Some schools are using Big Picture to plan new schools and we assist from the beginning.

Some clusters of schools are joining together to use Big Picture programs for some students and we offer support.

We offer different levels of engagement for different schools.

BP brochure

Big Picture Education Distinguishers

The Big Picture Education design is a dynamic approach to learning that has been changing the lives of students, educators, and communities in Australia since 2006.

The design is based on three foundational principles: firstly, that learning must be based on the interests and goals of each student; secondly, that a student’s curriculum must be relevant to people and places that exist in the real world; and finally, that a student’s abilities must be authentically measured by the quality of his or her work.

You can discover more about this approach via the following link.


 Getting Started

This phase is the compulsory first step for becoming engaged with BPEA. It will take time but normally no more than one school term.

Together BPEA and the school explore the Big Picture design and assess the school readiness for uptake before deciding on the best course of action.

It allows the school and BPEA to look at the feasibility of working together to bring about change.

Download the getting started flyer:


Or Contact us to start the conversation.

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