Challenge Partners is a national network of more than 270,000 pupils in 500 schools and more than 100 trusts, who believe the best way to reduce educational inequality and enhance the life chances of children is to work together, to combine our wisdom.
What unites our partners is a commitment to collaboration and challenge, to sharing best practice and continuous improvement, so great practice isn’t trapped in individual schools and all children benefit from an excellent education.
The charity rose from the London Challenge, which transformed schools and with them the life chances of thousands of children. Infact, London schools continue to be the highest performing of any region in the country. So when that initiative was halted in 2010, a group of headteachers felt it was too important to walk away and founded Challenge Partners to continue to learn from each other, so that more pupils benefit.
And it works: pupils in our partner schools achieve more and progress faster than the national average, and that is particularly evident for disadvantaged pupils. Sharing innovative practice quickly to schools across the country has helped ensure the most effective support reaches more of the students in greatest need.
That’s never been more important.
The pandemic has inflicted a ‘double-disadvantage’ on the poorest, setting back years of progress in narrowing inequalities. We are committed to helping trusts and schools to work together to address this. Our programmes support schools to close the attainment gap for disadvantaged pupils, and to share excellent practice to drive up the performance of all.
Since the first lockdown, we have helped schools adapt to online learning; shared research-informed approaches to supporting children affected by trauma; and have adapted our programmes to continue the important work to improve schools through peer challenge and accountability.
International research shows that high-performing education systems prioritise such collaboration over competition. Through Challenge Partners, new ways of working together are already helping some schools to improve children’s outcomes, and we are committed to sharing this learning across the sector.
School leadership is another of the greatest influences on pupil outcomes and by supporting our trust and school leaders we reach more than 270,000 pupils across the country. We provide the space for dialogue and collaboration in trusted networks, for school leaders to test and replicate practical learning that is peer-led. By also linking schools and trusts with external knowledge, the best keep on improving and help bring up the rest.
We work with primary, secondary, special and alternative provision schools, from leafy Devon villages to some of the most deprived areas of the country. And at school, local and national level, with groups of schools in new or well-established trusts. We supported schools in Knowsley on a targeted improvement programme, and schools in Doncaster Opportunity Area are benefiting as active participants in our network.
This is part of our continued support to build the capacity of schools and ensure children have the best possible education, even in the most challenging times.