CEO’s update: Planning for a collaborative, if challenging, future

3 April 2020

Dear Colleagues,

In normal circumstances I would today be welcoming you to the start of the new Network of Excellence partnership year and wishing you a joyful Easter break. Sadly these are far from normal circumstances.

Many of you will be working (even more than usual) over Easter, and doing far from normal things to provide ongoing support to your pupils, families, staff and communities. I hope you nevertheless find some time to rest - and I encourage you to, for the sake of your own wellbeing, and so you can continue the great work you are doing in the summer term.

As you know, we have postponed the formal start of the partnership year to September. That doesn't mean we’re twiddling our thumbs! Far from it. We remain - as we have been in recent weeks - focused on what we can do to support our schools through the current crisis and help you prepare to hit the ground running from September.

I know from my conversations with Senior Partners and other school leaders over recent days that many of you are beginning to plan for September, knowing that - even if schools are fully open - it will be anything but a normal start to the year. The effects of the current disruption to schooling will have significant and long-lasting consequences for a generation of learners who will likely have missed a term or more of teaching, and could have more need than ever for pastoral and emotional support. The effect on disadvantaged pupils will be particularly profound.

Over the course of the summer term, we will continue to look for ways and resources to help you prepare, encouraging hubs to come together to think and plan collaboratively so you don’t have to face the challenges alone. We will also showcase effective practice and ideas being developed by our schools.

If you are working over the Easter “break” you may like to take a moment to renew your subscription to Challenge Partners, using the link we last sent through on 11th March . If this has been buried in your inbox somewhere (a problem I’m more than familiar with), please email and we can resend it to you.

Renewing at this stage not only helps us to plan for the next academic year, but reaffirms your commitment to a collaborative network of peers at a time when working together and sharing collective wisdom is more important than ever. 

If you are taking a break over Easter, we will be in touch again at the start of the summer term with further reminders. We will also begin issuing invoices and contracts so we can all prepare for the year ahead.

Best wishes,

Dr Kate Chhatwal, OBE 

Planning for next year - subscription renewal form

If you haven't already, please do complete your renewal form ahead of the new partnership year, which will now start in September and run for the length of the academic year. As Kate mentioned above, early renewal reaffirms your commitment to our national network, as well helping us to plan for the next academic year. If you need your school's individual form link to be resent, please respond via email and we can provide this. You will receive your invoice after Easter.

Face-to-face activities suspended

It will come as no surprise that all of our face-to-face activities planned for the summer term are suspended. This includes Quality Assurance Reviews, Trust Peer Reviews, Getting Ahead London events, Growing the Top visit days and April’s Senior Partner and Hub Manager meeting. We will look to provide virtual alternatives where we can and will be in touch with more details for each of our programmes soon.

Share your plans and resources - and see what others are doing around remote learning and the coronavirus challenge

We continue to be overwhelmed by the generous sharing of schools and trusts, and have collated some resources and suggestions from schools in the network and other useful links for information on remote learning and provision for FSM here. Insights from colleagues in the US are also available in this article and this video. Please email if you have resources to share or tag us on Twitter @ChallengePartnr.

Let us know what else we can do to support you

Please email with any suggestions.