Join our Central Team as Pilot Programme Manager

£30k - £38k dependent on experience

Challenge Partners is a practitioner-led charity that enables collaboration between over 500 schools to enhance the life chances of all children, especially the most disadvantaged. We provide networks and programmes that facilitate sustainable collaboration and challenge between schools in order to underpin improvements in educational outcomes which would not be possible for a school, or group of schools, to achieve as effectively or efficiently on its own.

The education landscape is changing rapidly, and Challenge Partners needs to respond to this change. We intend to do this through the development, piloting and rolling out of new programmes for our membership, which enhance the value of the current network, and ensure that we respond to changing school needs. This role will play a key part in ensuring that we deliver high value, high impact programmes to all our schools, as we look to double in size in the next 3 years.

Role description

The Pilot Programme Manager has responsibility for the delivery and development of a portfolio of pilot programmes. Initially, this will focus on two strands of work:


  • Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs). Schools in MATs comprise a significant and growing proportion of Challenge Partners’ membership. The Pilot Programme Manager will be responsible for leading on developing new programmes to support and enable MAT collaboration, as well as enhancing the value to MATs

  • Growing the Top. Lead on the delivery and evaluation of our Growing the Top programme. This programme is being delivered at the moment with a group of over 20 secondary schools within our Network of excellence that were all in the top 5% of the national Progress 8 measures in 2016

  • Additional pilot programmes may be identified to respond to changing strategic priorities and the needs of our members


The Pilot Programme Manager will report to the Head of Programmes. Key responsibilities are as follows:


Pilot programme delivery

  • Oversee delivery of existing pilot programmes, including coordination of all activities which comprise the programme, and management of communication with all internal and external stakeholders

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

  • Lead on the development of sustainable programme delivery processes, to ensure that if the programme progresses beyond pilot stage, it can be embedded within our regular activities, and delivered sustainably at scale


Pilot programme evaluation

  • Ensure that existing pilot programmes have robust impact measurement processes put in place to ensure that their impact on schools and school leaders can be evaluated effectively during the the pilot, and at its conclusion

  • Recommend the continuation, development or discontinuation of each pilot programme at the conclusion of the pilot

  • If the pilot is continued, ensure that a plan is put in place and agreed for the sustainable delivery of the programme, and lead on the implementation of the plan to ensure that this is incorporated into Challenge Partners’ operational delivery to schools


Pilot programme pipeline management

  • Lead on the development of a pipeline for potential future Challenge Partners programmes, based on school needs, potential for synergy with our existing programmes, programmes run at a school level which could be scaled up, or external organisations which we could partner with

  • Lead on the recommendation for future pilot areas, and the launch of these programmes if the recommendation is approved


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

  • Experience of working in or with schools (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.