Our CEO receives New Year honour

27 December 2019

We are delighted to announce that Dr Kate Chhatwal has been awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours for services to education.

Before joining Challenge Partners as CEO in February 2018, she was Executive Director of Southwark Teaching School Alliance and Chief Programme Officer at The Future Leaders Trust.

Kate has volunteered as a school governor and trustee for more than a decade and is currently a trustee at STEP Academy Trust, where she established and chaired the education committee for four years, and at The Charter Schools Educational Trust. 

She said: “I have been fortunate to work with and learn from many inspiring and dedicated educators and governors who are equally committed to unleashing the power of learning and breaking the link between poverty and poor outcomes. We should recognise and celebrate them all.

“My own school experience opened my eyes to the power of education to expand young minds with new experiences, ideas and perspectives, which benefit individuals, communities and society. It prompted me to try through my career and voluntary roles to enable more children and communities to benefit from a great education. I feel honoured (and rather embarrassed) to receive an award for doing something I love and care passionately about.” 

Kate is also Co-Founder and Vice-Chair of the Leading Women's Alliance, which empowers more women to take up senior positions in education. She holds a PhD in education policy and has more than 15 years’ experience of leading policies and programmes to improve educational outcomes for disadvantaged children. 

Jon Coles, our Chair of Trustees said: “This award recognises Kate’s substantial contribution to improving education and educational leadership throughout her career.  As Chief Executive of Challenge Partners she is leading an organisation which brings together a network of schools which challenge and support one another to improve children’s life chances. 
“Her work with Challenge Partners builds on a substantial body of work in education – in government and in previous roles in the charitable sector – where she has led increases in participation in education post-16, supported improvement in the most challenging schools, overseen innovative programmes to develop leaders in education and led professional development and school improvement in an alliance of schools.
“This is a well-deserved tribute to Kate’s work and her deep commitment to improving the life chances of all children, including the most disadvantaged, and her significant impact on that goal.  It is very pleasing for everyone associated with Challenge Partners, including all the partner schools, to see this work recognised in this way.”

Beginning her career in the Department for Education, she led the Labour government's flagship National Challenge Programme and key aspects of 14-19 curriculum and qualifications reform.