The Network of Excellence

"In the current educational climate, the need for schools to work together has never been greater." Sarah Boyse, Head of Teaching School, Altrincham Grammar School for Girls

Challenge Partners is a national partnership of schools committed to reducing educational inequality and improving the life chances of all children. Through collaboration, challenge and professional development, we are working to ensure every school can benefit from the combined wisdom of the education system. Pupils in our partner schools achieve more and progress faster than the national average. Of the Challenge Partner schools inspected in 2017/18, 48% improved their Ofsted grade, compared to only 34% nationally. 

Join our Network of Excellence

By building a trusted practitioner-led network, we identify the knowledge and skills of the best, and facilitate collaboration with others, to reduce variability in provision. We link outstanding schools with external knowledge, to drive up the performance of all schools, leaders, teachers and pupils. And we harness our collective voice to influence national policy and practice. 

This growing network includes 500 primary, secondary and special schools and alternative provision settings nationwide. Challenge Partners schools can access information, share good practice and expertise. 

Schools are organised into local hubs, working together to secure improvements and personal development on shared priorities. They link with hubs around the country, and play a crucial role in facilitating collaboration and knowledge-sharing between schools. 

Challenge Partners schools benefit from:

  • peer collaboration and knowledge exchange
  • training in key leadership skills and competencies
  • sharing innovative practice online and at local and national events
  • working with business and other charities to learn from other sectors
  • bespoke programmes to reduce gaps in educational achievement and to extend excellence

Evidence-informed collaboration

Further strategic support is available to enhance the effectiveness of your teaching school hub, local partnership or multi-academy trust, including Sharing Leading Practice through webinars or immersive school visits and our collaborative, high-impact pupil premium programme developed by outstanding schools, Excellence for Everyone

Be part of a national community

We also help you identify and link-up with best practice nationally through:

  • Our online directory of expertise in schools like yours
  • National events to engage with other colleagues, research and high-profile speakers, including Masterclasses, National Network Meetings and National Conference
  • Discounts from partner organisations including ImpactEd

“Challenge Partners schools continue to outperform others nationally, underlining the benefits of our outward-looking, partnership approach”
Dr Kate Chhatwal CEO, Challenge Partners 

And enjoy local or regional collaboration

Schools are organised into local hubs, working together to secure improvements and continuing professional development on shared priorities. They link with hubs around the country, and play a crucial role in facilitating collaboration and knowledge-sharing between schools. Where local hubs are not available, in some areas outside London, schools can join a Regional Headteachers' Network.

Quality Assurance Review

We have developed a powerful tool for peer review and collaboration, and we recommend all partner schools take part on joining and at least once every two years thereafter. The Quality Assurance Review is an opportunity for schools to work together through an open, challenging process which supports learning and reflection. These rigorous annual reviews take place over three days, and are led by an expert Lead Reviewer, whose role is to guide and support the review team, which comprises host school leaders and peer reviewers drawn from across the national network. 

The team make robust and evidence-based evaluations about what the school is doing well and next steps to improve, which our partners find an invaluable part of the school improvement planning. The QA Reviews provide great professional development for reviewers, as well as sharp evaluation for the host school. 

Post review we put you in touch with relevant outstanding people and practice in the partnership and beyond to help accelerate your school’s improvement. Find out more here.

What does membership cost?

Joining the Challenge Partners Network of Excellence costs £7.35 per pupil on roll at your school. The minimum fee is £3,150 and the maximum is £8,800. We offer discounts for loyalty for schools ready to commit to subscription for two to three years. We also offer a discount for small schools and for groups of schools paying substantially more. A proportion of your subscription fee is returned to the local hub to be used on collective priorities identified by you and your colleagues.

When and how can you join?

Membership of the Network of Excellence runs from September to August but you can register your interest at any point throughout the year.  If you already know of a local hub operating near you, you are welcome to speak to us or directly with the Senior Partner or Hub Manager. If you are not aware of a hub in your area, get in touch with us and we will be glad to discuss membership further.

If you are interested in starting your own Challenge Partners hub, we would be delighted to set out the responsibilities, benefits and other considerations. To find out more about joining an existing local hub in your area or about starting your own, please do get in touch with us at [email protected]

For more information

Watch this short film about Challenge Partners 

Download a short flyer about our Network of Excellence offer

Policies and terms and conditions

Terms and conditions - Network of Excellence

Network of Excellence cancellation policy

QA Review cancellation policy


“Our philosophy of collaboration, accountability, openness and trust guides everything we do.”
Dame Sue John, Executive Director, Challenge Partners