Our Mission, Values and Five-Year Strategy

Our mission is to reduce educational inequality and improve the life chances of all children. Through collaboration, challenge and leadership development, we are working to ensure every school community can benefit from the combined wisdom of the education system.

To work towards our mission, we have collectively adopted these three core aims that guide what we do:

Schools and trusts in our partnership share six values which underpin everything we do:


We are always looking for ways to improve because we are determined to achieve the best for every child, teacher and leader


We seek the best for every child, and know that those who have the least need our combined expertise the most


We listen to, share with, and learn from each other, developing our practice together so that every child benefits from our combined wisdom and creativity


We expect the best of ourselves and each other, and value challenge which helps us improve


We use and generate research, we innovate with discipline and evaluate intelligently in pursuit of better outcomes for all children, especially the most disadvantaged

Courageous Leadership

We speak up and take responsibility for all children, making sure that we do not harm others in doing our best for our own schools

Our unique approach is predicated on:

Being practitioner led

Challenge Partners was founded by headteachers in 2011 and practitioner leadership is integral to our governance and operations. This ensures our activities reflect, shape and respond to the real needs of teachers and leaders

A national network of local and regional partnerships

We strengthen and harness local partnerships and provide resources to meet local needs. We connect schools, trusts and local partnerships in a national Network of Excellence to tackle regional disparities, and create a model and voice for national reform

Creating sustainable solutions

We know there are no quick fixes and our partnership supports schools and trusts in the long-haul of deep and sustainable school improvement

Improving and sharing leading practice

We systematically identify and spread excellent practice to reduce the variability and drive the best to grow further

Accessing the best from business and beyond

We harness strong business and international models where they can stretch our schools and trust, and/or enhance our operations

In January 2023 we launched an ambitious strategy to enhance and extend our partnership so that by 2027 half a million pupils each year benefit from Challenge Partners’ unique blend of collaboration, challenge and leadership development. We want to grow in underserved areas, redoubling our focus on securing the biggest impact for the disadvantaged pupils who need it most.
To do this we will:
Expand our reach by welcoming more new schools and trusts into our partnership, with a particular focus on underserved areas
Enhance and expand our impact on children and young people, especially those facing the greatest barriers to success
Enhance the value provided to schools and trusts through continuous improvement and innovation of our evidence-informed programmes, networks and knowledge exchange

Challenge Partners was built on the London Challenge success

Challenge Partners follows a rich history of school improvement and collaboration, not least in the work of the London Challenge programmes.

The success of these approaches was brought about by developing models of school-to-school support which unlocked great practice out of schools and shared the knowledge and practice between schools and local authorities. A pioneering example of a collaborative approach to school improvement.

When the London Challenge ended in 2011, many of the school leaders who played a role in that work committed to developing a self-funding and sustainable way to continue and develop this approach nationally - Challenge Partners was born.