The Impact of Challenge the Gap

At the end of the Challenge the Gap programme year 2016/17, we asked participants from our school teams to complete a survey about their experience of the programme. 88% of participating schools completed the survey.

Pupil impact: breaking the link between poverty and poor outcomes 

“All children made expected or accelerated progress. In Writing 82% accelerated. In Maths 73% accelerated​”  

 Leader, Portsmouth Cluster


Story of change: personalised Pupil Premium support

In this interview, Noel Toledano, headteacher at Upton Primary School, discusses how the pupils in their target cohort struggled with a lack of confidence and resilience. Having developed more refined and personalised strategies to support these disadvantaged pupils, they are now making good or better progress.

Read the full interview here

Staff impact: building in-school expertise for staff at all levels

“As a teacher, I am much more aware of barriers to learning and how to overcome these"

Teacher, Brighton Cluster


Story of change: challenging the vocabulary gap

In this interview, Katie Patrick, headteacher at Dunstone Primary, explains how their school faced a particular challenge with a lack of understanding and use of new/extended vocabulary amongst their disadvantaged pupils and how they have used a series of interventions to overcome this barrier to learning.

Read the full interview here

Whole school impact: scaling up effective strategies to impact pupils across the entire school

“Challenge the Gap has raised awareness across the college of all disadvantaged students” 

 Para-professional, Essex Cluster


Story of change: a Pupil Premium first approach

Bishop Challoner School (secondary phase) has a high Pupil Premium intake of 56% and identified low aspirations, a lack of confidence and a lack of role models outside of school as the key barriers to learning among their disadvantaged pupils. In this interview, Maya Cheetham describes how the school team rose to these challenges through a Pupil Premium first approach.

Read the full interview here


Further Information

EEF/University of Manchester evaluation of Challenge the Gap

We are proud to have worked with the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) to test our early design of Challenge the Gap and were grateful for the formative feedback the University of Manchester provided as they conducted their evaluation. This meant that we were able to make changes to the programme before rolling it out in its current (revised) form. 

The University of Manchester evaluation of the 2012 pilot version of the CtG programme highlighted the following strengths and benefits of the programme:

  • In primary schools, Free School Meal (FSM) students in CtG schools made 2 months’ additional progress in comparison with similar students in schools that did not receive the intervention
  • The leaders, teachers and para-professionals that took part in CtG valued the opportunity to collaborate with other schools and were extremely positive about the approach
  • Many of those involved reported that the academic progress of pupils had been accelerated during the period of their participation in the programme
  • There were also a number of instances where teachers referred to visible improvements in pupils’ progress in terms of changes in attitudes, engagement and attendance

The report also highlighted some areas where the pilot programme had less impact and these were addressed before the programme was rolled out. We are delighted by the positive impact this had and that Challenge the Gap has been endorsed by the Department for Education as a key component in a number of successful Strategic School Improvement Fund (SSIF) projects.

When designing the pilot programme, we included a number of approaches - like deployment and training of high quality support staff, metacognition, resilience, and parental engagement - which have since emerged through the work of the EEF as important areas for schools to focus on. These remain at the heart of the programme, with the content refreshed each year to include the latest research and best practice from our schools.