Posted by Keith Hancox on 28.02.17

The #UpForSchool campaign started in 2014. Launched by the education charity Theirworld run by author and campaigner, Sarah Brown. Their mission was to raise awareness of the 58 million children around the world out of school. They had a year to collect as many signatures as possible to take to the UN summit in New York at the end of 2015.

They had a name, but they needed an identity. Something that could combine the progress of the word up’ and an international symbol for education. We looked back through the research and spotted that the reoccurring thing in all the images and films of children learning was their workbooks. That gave us the logo (a book/​arrow pointing up).

We went back to the workbooks for the colour palette and developed a demanding tone of voice from the point of view of the kids. Lastly we combined it all to create bespoke workbooks to act as petition books to collect the first million signatures by hand. 

A month after creating the identity, things moved fast. Their world gathered together youth and community leaders armed with posters, placards and spray paint and the #UpForSchool campaign was launched in New York by Ban Ki Moon, followed by a rally in Central Park. 

From there it snowballed. Stephen Fry tweeted his support along with Lewis Hamilton, Eddie Izzard, Sharon Osbourne and Malala. 

The word was out. We received images from all over the world. From school children gathering in Oslo, marches through the streets of Kenya and posing for photos in the Philippines. 

They used the wrong font, the wrong colours, ignored all the brand guidelines but we realised it didn’t matter. The brand was simple enough to be replicated around the world and however it looked, people were getting behind the campaign using anything they could get their hands on (including cupcakes).

One day we got a call. Rovio, the makers of Angry Birds wanted to help with the campaign. They wanted to make a special level so that people could sign the petition directly by playing the game through Facebook. We developed a story behind the birds (why else would they be angry) and got them to sign too!

Unbelievably the petition reached 10 million signatures and it ended where it began in New York and I got to see the biggest thing I’ve ever designed on a digital billboard in Times Square. 

It became the biggest education petition in history and thanks to it, a new fund was established by world leaders specifically for education emergencies with initial funding of 90 million dollars.

For more information, visit their​world​.org.

Written by Keith Hancox, who was the lead designer on the #UpForSchool campaign whilst he worked at The Partners. Keith has since flown the nest to set up Lark Design Studio.