We're helping the children who really need it

18 November 2019

We are committed to equity and helping those most in need, and new data shows our Network of Excellence does include more children from deprived families, reveals Tomilyn Rupert

We’ve been conducting an exercise to make sure we’re measuring what matters. That has two meanings, of course. The first is a reflection on what data matters for making decisions and making sure you can be confident in the value of what we’re delivering. The second is about why we do what we do, and making sure our values are reflected in our work.

This year, as we fine tune our key performance indicators, we wanted to make sure that they were reflecting our key value of equity. So we began crunching the numbers on how we are serving disadvantaged children within our network.

When it comes to the Network of Excellence, our ambition is to provide particular benefit to the disadvantaged children and young people who need our support the most. Analysis of Department for Education data shows that collectively the schools in Challenge Partners serve a higher proportion of children eligible for free school meals (FSM) than national and regional averages.

First we separated out schools located in the councils which form part of Greater London, from schools based everywhere else in the country. Then we looked at the average percentage of pupils eligible for free school meals in both these groups, and compared it with the average percentage in schools that participate in Challenge Partners’ Network of Excellence.

This data doesn’t capture the total number of pupils eligible, as we didn’t weight the schools based on their size. We did this because Challenge Partners works in both quite small schools and very large ones, and we wanted to make sure that a few large schools weren’t skewing the data for us.

Proportion of pupils eligible for FSM

Everywhere but London


All English schools average



Challenge Partners average



We were pleased to find that we’re staying true to our values, by working with schools that have a much higher percentage of pupils eligible for Free School Meals than the national average, both inside and outside of London. We know there's a disadvantage gap in attainment and supporting our schools to improve aims to help close this. As we implement our programmes, we’ll continue to make sure we’re doing it with our values front and centre.

  • Tomilyn Rupert is our Data, Impact and Evaluation Manager