The Partnership has its roots in the London Challenge programme which developed an approach to school improvement based on school-to-school support and practitioner led innovation. When the programme ended many of the school leaders who played a role in that work committed to developing a self-funding and sustainable way, through Challenge Partners, to continue and develop this approach nationally.
The Partnership now contains over 230 schools across the country and includes schools from all phases, governance types, and stages in their school improvement journey.
The shape of Challenge Partners draws upon structures developed by groups such as the John Lewis Partnership. Schools are linked to teaching schools and together they agree their local agenda of activities, targets and ways of working. All schools are company members which ensures that Challenge Partners remains a genuine school-led collaborative.
Challenge Partners was named to illustrate two key factors required for effective collaboration and school improvement.
“Challenge” indicates the rigour that is built into the organisation through strong quality assurance measures, self-regulation and accountability to the whole system. Challenge is required to the status quo, and current definitions of excellence, if all schools are to improve pupil outcomes.
“Partners” indicates a compelling and inclusive moral purpose and strong, shared values, principles and beliefs. It shows that it is a partnership owned and led by its members who decide together how they want to shape its activity and direction ensuring a sustainable and effective approach to collaborative improvement.
Manor School joined the Partnership in September 2013 and our latest Challenge Partner Review was held in January 2017. We had brilliant feedback from this review and their key findings were:
- The teaching observed was excellent
- Differentiation for pupils in lessons was very good and pupils were highly engaged in their learning
- Staff were communicating very effectively with pupils using speech, sign and symbols
- Resourcing of lessons was excellent
- Staff and pupil relationships were outstanding
- Behaviour was very well managed in a positive, calm manner (outstanding)
- Attention Autism activities was fantastic and pupils were very well engaged
- VB intervention was highly effective (outstanding)
- MAST support is embedded in class teams and our therapy provision is excellent
- Teachers reported back that they felt supported and CPD opportunities for all staff was of a very high standard (outstanding)
- Relationships and partnership with other schools was rapidly developing
- Development of middle leaders was a great support to school improvement
- Assessment data was good and being well used i.e. in Pupil Progress meetings. Staff used this to support their teaching and help ensure pupil targets and interventions were accurate and well targeted
- New PIPs were a very good idea and helped identify small steps of progress
- ICT was being used very effectively to support teaching and learning
They noted how enthusiastic and supportive all staff were and thought our school was an amazing place to be. The reviewers noted the wonderful atmosphere that permeates our school and they could see that we were making excellent progress in developing all areas of the school.