Challenge Partners launches a new strategy to reach half a million pupils each year by 2027, promoting Laura Lewis-Williams to new Managing Director role

Challenge Partners launches a new strategy to reach half a million pupils each year by 2027, promoting Laura Lewis-Williams to new Managing Director role 

Challenge Partners is making changes to its leadership team as the education charity announces a five-year strategy to enhance and expand its partnership of schools and trusts.

The aim of its ambitious strategy is that, by the end of 2027, over half a million children and young people each year will benefit from the collaboration, challenge and leadership development at the core of Challenge Partners’ mission.

You can read the full strategy document here

Everything Challenge Partners does is focused on improving educational opportunities and improving life chances for all children. Its ambition is to grow in underserved areas, redoubling the focus on securing the biggest impact for the disadvantaged pupils who need it most. 

The leadership team changes will put the organisation in good shape to continue to improve the Challenge Partners’ experience for partner schools and trusts. 

Dr Kate Chhatwal OBE, who remains as CEO, announced the appointment of Laura Lewis-Williams as Managing Director of Challenge Partners. In this new role, Laura will be responsible for the day-to-day running of the organisation, including oversight and continuous improvement of programmes, networks and hubs.

Dame Sue John continues as Executive Director.

Dr Chhatwal commented: “We’re thrilled that Laura is stepping up to this new role. With Laura leading the team to extend excellence in our existing activities, I will be able to bring greater focus to the future development and sustainability of Challenge Partners, including innovation and external partnerships. Sue will continue to add her creativity and extensive practitioner expertise and insight across a wide range of partnership- and external-facing activities.”

Laura Lewis-Williams

Laura Lewis-Williams

Laura added: “I’m delighted to be appointed as Managing Director and feel privileged to have this opportunity to continue to work with so many incredible practitioners across the country, all dedicated to improving education for all children. My career to date has been focused on improving outcomes for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. I strongly believe that peer-to-peer collaboration has the power to reduce educational inequality and improve the life chances of all children.”

Laura joined Challenge Partners in 2018, following a ten-year career teaching and leading in inner-city London schools, including as Deputy Headteacher at Quintin Kynaston School. She has also worked in the private and public sector including as a Chartered Accountant within Corporate Finance at Deloitte, and as Director of Headship and Executive Programmes at Ambition School Leadership.

She holds an MA in Education and International Development from UCL Institute of Education and an MA in Social and Political Sciences from the University of Cambridge.

In other changes, Catherine Bailhache is confirmed as Director of Partnership Development, Liz King as Head of Strategy and Innovation, and Roisin Killick as Head of Programmes, Networks and Evaluation.

A new Director of Finance and Operations will be in post in the spring, and Challenge Partners is also recruiting for a new role - generously sponsored by the Permira Foundation – to lead digital transformation.

Development of the new strategy drew on vital insight and expertise from across the partnership, the board, the education sector and beyond. Thanks to support from the Social Business Trust, Challenge Partners also worked, pro-bono, with a dedicated team at global consultancy Bain & Company.