Education is a major force for economic and social wellbeing. Despite high aspirations, education at all levels can be expensive and ineffective. Three Grand Challenges are identified: (1) enable people to learn orders of magnitude more effectively, (2) enable people to learn at orders of magnitude less cost, and (3) demonstrate success by exemplary interdisciplinary education in complex systems science. A ten year ‘man-on-the-moon’ project is proposed in which FuturICT’s unique combination of Complexity, Social and Computing Sciences could provide an urgently needed transdisciplinary language for making sense of educational systems. In close dialogue with educational theory and practice, and grounded in the emerging data science and learning analytics paradigms, this will translate into practical tools (both analytical and computational) for researchers, practitioners and leaders; generative principles for resilient educational ecosystems; and innovation for radically scalable, yet personalised, learner engagement and assessment. The proposed Education Accelerator will serve as a ‘wind tunnel’ for testing these ideas in the context of real educational programmes, with an international virtual campus delivering complex systems education exploiting the new understanding of complex, social, computationally enhanced organisational structure developed within FuturICT.