Join our Central Team as Challenge the Gap Programme Manager

£30k - £38k dependent on experience

Narrowing the attainment gap in schools is something which is at the heart of Challenge Partners’ mission, to ensure that all children, whatever their background, have the opportunity to thrive. The primary way we achieve this currently is through the delivery of our Challenge the Gap programme. This is a whole school improvement programme that builds capacity at all levels with the aim of breaking the link between poverty and poor outcomes for good. Leaders, teachers and para-professionals join together on Challenge the Gap as a Team that becomes a catalyst for change within their school.


We are entering our sixth year of delivering the programme, and are seeking to refresh it, and our wider strategy around closing the attainment gap, in the coming year. This will ensure that we continue to meet the needs of our schools and can continue to make a meaningful impact in closing the attainment gap and supporting the development of all pupils, especially the most disadvantaged. This role is a key part of developing this strategy, and making it a reality.


Role description

The Challenge the Gap Programme Manager (CtG PM) has responsibility for the delivery and the development of our Challenge the Gap programme, and will lead on the development of Challenge Partners’ long-term strategy for supporting all of our schools to narrow the attainment gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged pupils. The CtG PM will report to the Head of Programmes, and line manage the Challenge the Gap Programme Coordinator. Key responsibilities are as follows:


Programme delivery

  • Oversee delivery of the workshops, school visits, and associated activities which comprise the programme, and ensure appropriate outcome measures to drive whole-school improvement for disadvantaged pupils are established and maintained

  • Set, monitor and act on impact metrics for the programme, particularly around workshop impact, and monitor Quality Assurance visits to schools to ensure that the programme is being delivered effectively

  • Hold and manage relationships with school leaders to ensure they are supported and fully engaged, with high satisfaction throughout the length of the programme


Programme development:

  • Lead on the development of the programme for the 2018-19 membership year (to begin in summer 2018), including managing the implementation and communication of a likely series of structural changes to the programme

  • Develop and manage the production of a range of high quality materials to support the delivery of the programme. Work with the schools and subject matter experts to ensure that the programme content is current and draws upon the latest research

  • Work with the Head of Membership to develop clear marketing materials and supporting documentation for the recruitment of new schools to the programme, and liaise with the Memberships Team and facilitators on the recruitment of new schools

  • Liaise with our network of external experts to ensure the programme remains current with the latest education research and relevant to schools


Strategic Development

  • Lead on the formulation of the long term strategy for Challenge Partners’ approach to narrowing the attainment gap, working with a variety of internal and external stakeholders and experts. This will take the form of a recommendation to be made by September 2018  

  • Subject to board approval of the strategy, lead on its implementation to ensure that all aspects of the revised offering have been piloted and rolled out to schools no later than September 2019. The new strategy must contain a clearly articulated hypothesis about how Challenge Partners should support schools to narrow the attainment gap, have clearly established impact metrics in place, and be financially sustainable


Line management

  • Line manage the Challenge the Gap Programme Coordinator and ensure that they have the resources, training and support needed to fulfill their responsibilities, and those of the programme as a whole

  • Support the development of the post holder through training, coaching and modelling good practice


Salary: £30,000 - £38,000 per year, based on experience.

Contract length: 18 months.

Person Specification

Specific Skills and Attitudes: Challenge Partners is a growing organisation and seeks an ambitious and driven individual able to develop with the role, and take on increasing responsibility. Specific skills and attitudes we are looking for in an applicant are as follows:


  • Experience of programme management with ability to ensure operational efficiency and excellence

  • Proven ability to manage external stakeholders and develop strong working relationships with them

  • Proven ability to develop and implement strategic initiatives, with the ability to succinctly define problems, set out options, and support recommendations with detailed analysis

  • Outstanding written and oral communication skills, with the ability to build rapport, express yourself concisely and appropriately with individuals at varied levels of seniority

  • Demonstrated experience leading and managing people effectively

  • Experience of working in or with schools, with a particular focus on experience working on Pupil Premium or attainment gap projects (desirable)

  • An ability to take the initiative, and identify solutions and improvements

  • A passion for education with a desire to make a difference

  • A willingness to learn, and give and receive feedback


Personal Characteristics: Our team is very important to us, and we are looking for someone who shares our key values:


  • Teamwork. We listen to, share with and learn from each other

  • Pursuit of excellence. We strive for excellence in all that we do and take great pride in our work

  • Challenge Partners family.  We support each other to do our best and have fun doing it

  • Trust and transparency.  We are open, honest and humble

  • Creative freedom.  We encourage people to speak-up and take ownership


Benefits of working for Challenge Partners

  • 25 days of paid holiday per year, plus 8 additional days of bank holiday

  • An employer contributed pension - we match up to 5% of your own contribution

  • Flexible working hours.

  • Central London office location at Waterloo, minutes’ walk from the South Bank, with views over London. It is a spacious, comfortable and friendly environment, sharing with another educational social enterprise (Action Tutoring)

  • A supportive and friendly team

  • A chance to make a real difference to educational outcomes

  • The opportunity to progress and develop skills in a fast-growing team

  • Money off medical and dental bills through our health insurance provider, Simply Health


Application instructions

If you would like to be a part of our team, then please send a current CV and specific covering letter explaining why you would be an outstanding candidate for the role to Jim Riddiford, Head of Programmes, at Alternatively, if you would like to discuss the role before your application, you can call him on 020 7803 4987.


Please note that we will disregard your application if we do not receive a CV and role-specific cover letter.


The deadline for applications is Monday 23rd October.


Next steps

Once you have submitted your application the following timelines apply:


  • Monday 23rd October: deadline for submission of applications

  • Wednesday 25th October: all successful applicants will hear if they have progressed to the next round. Due to the volume of applications we receive, we are not able to give you individual feedback if your application is not successful at this stage

  • Thursday 26th October - Friday 3rd November: 30-minute phone interviews and 2 hour timed missions. These are case study activities which can be undertaken at home, at a time of your choosing. If we would like to meet you for a face-to-face interview, we will notify you by Friday 3rd November

  • Thursday 9th - Friday 17th November: interviews. These will be held at our offices in London

  • Friday 17th November - we will notify the successful applicant. Unsuccessful applicants will be offered the chance to receive feedback over the phone


Start date: ideally to start before Christmas, although we are prepared to be flexible to ensure that we recruit the most suitable candidate.