We are a nationwide network of schools working together to improve education outcomes for all. Our goal is to reduce educational inequality and improve the life chances of all children. Through collaboration, challenge and professional development, we are working to ensure every school community can benefit from the combined wisdom of the whole system.

  • You can read the full Challenge Partners Annual Report 2020 (published 2021) here

Aim 1: Maximise the life chances of all pupils and accelerate the progress of the disadvantaged

Knowledge exchange through our Network of Excellence helps leaders share excellent practice, so more children benefit from an excellent education.

In 2019-20 virtual meetings and webinars helped ensure more leaders could benefit as all schools innovated at speed, bringing people together to share ideas and expertise, to help address current challenges.

598 school or trust leaders attended a webinar or virtual National Network Meeting. These sessions tackled a wide range of topics including Strategies to support children after trauma; Making the shift to remote working; and Diversity within the curriculum.

“I have been inspired by our Challenge Partners Senior Partners session. Great learning, lots of practical and positive strategies. Let’s seize the future.” Karen Bramwell CEO, Forward As One CE Multi Academy Trust

We do not have public test and exam data to compare performance this year, but kept our focus on support for disadvantaged pupils throughout.

34% of our schools were given the top rating, Leading, for quality of provision and outcomes for disadvantaged pupils, and pupils with additional needs on our Quality Assurance Review. A further 53% were evaluated by their peers to be doing this well. 19 schools took part in Excellence for Everyone, which empowers teams of leaders, teachers and support staff to develop whole-school, sustainable approaches to closing the disadvantage gap.

“It enabled us ... to really look at our provision and scrutinise it. The way that we now focus on data, the way that we now focus on our students’ needs and personalise it has made a huge difference to how we focus on our students, our disadvantaged students.” Elizabeth Grant Deputy Headteacher, Chancellor’s School

Aim 2: Support leaders at all levels to develop and grow capacity for sustained improvement in schools and trusts

Our programmes and hubs bring leaders together to collaborate, challenge and learn from excellent practice, helping more to become leading schools.

Aim 3: Extend excellence, shaping a world-class system in which all pupils thrive

Our schools made significant contributions to research, defining and encouraging excellence in 2019/20:

Our programme Growing the Top, to encourage stand out schools to perform even better, was evaluated by Dr Peter Matthews and Roisin Killick. The findings also help define the common elements for school success. Read the report here.
We worked on the Department for Education-funded Knowsley Strategic School Improvement project, which aimed to raise literacy standards in 29 primary and secondary schools in an area with exceptionally high levels of disadvantage. Deploying experienced headteachers/CEOs to advise and coach school leaders led to an ‘extremely positive impact’, evaluated by Manchester Met University. Find further details and read the report here.
Our Trust Peer Review has been evaluated by NFER and their positive report is published here. The need for evidence on what makes an effective multi-academy trust was spelt out by Dr Kate Chhatwal here.
Challenge Partner schools supported ImpactEd for a learning report showcasing effective evaluation practice from seven schools, addressing improving pupil wellbeing and
resilience, closing disadvantage gaps and more. Read the report here.
We were also proud to share the work of our partner school Cheam Common Junior Academy, which was named one of 20 EdTech demonstrator schools across England. Partner schools gained an insight into their excellent practice in a webinar, Journey to Remote Learning.
We continued to accredit and share excellent practice across the sector and this year added 59 Areas of Excellence across Challenge Partners schools.
  • Read the Challenge Partners Annual Report 2020 (published 2021) here