The report examines the role of area-based ‘challenges’ in driving school improvement and tackling regional disparities in educational performance. It follows the evolution and learning from the London Challenge programme – which ran from 2003 to 2011 – and helped shape London’s schools, which are now the best performing in England.
Professor David Woods CBE, Chair of the London Leadership Strategy and formerly the Principal National Challenge Advisor for England and Chief Advisor for London Schools, said:
“This report is welcomed, particularly its strong focus on identifying what worked with London Challenge. London Challenge has shown that with ambition, aspiration and a clear focus on raising standards and closing attainment gaps, backed by committed leadership at all levels, an education system can be transformed. Other regions can build upon this to mobilise their intellectual, social and organisational capital to produce excellent educational outcomes.
“One of the strongest successes of London Challenge was the way the programme captured the hearts and minds of London school leaders and educators. It united everyone under a common goal to ensure that every child and young person thrived regardless of their background.”
At London Leadership Strategy, we have started taking the learnings from London out to other regions and are sharing best practice regionally within our London networks. We have also supported the incubation of a number of regional challenge programmes including Somerset Challenge, Norfolk and South Gloucester and are actively supporting system leaders to rise through the ranks. However, its early days and a school led system needs support and investment to enable collaboration and innovation to flourish.
LLS was born of London Challenge and today takes forward London Challenge’s successes and strategies in the contemporary education context. The organisation, led by serving Headteachers, continues to connect and inspire schools in London and beyond under the leadership of senior Headteachers who played pivotal roles in London Challenge as system leaders and supported schools.
LLS is taking the lessons learnt from London across England and is now working with primary and secondary schools in Norfolk, Poole, Somerset and South Gloucestershire, amongst others. In addition, the organisation is continuing to plug gaps and innovate in London, currently leading a big push on supporting children and young people with special educational needs (SEN).
We believe that much of the London Challenge is replicable and provides a recipe for success. Yet it will only work if it is fit for local context where regions identify their local assets, best leaders and practice alongside analysing local data and challenges on the ground. In addition, London’s success has proved the vital importance of school leaders like NLEs working together as part of a network rather than just school to school.
The regional challenge programmes in the likes of Somerset and Norfolk are starting to create a shared language and brand that educators can unite behind and they are welcoming external challenge and support from London Leadership Strategy and others.
In the last year, LLS has supported 130 schools with bespoke support, made 52 NLE deployments, supported over 500 educators through conferences, worked in 7 Local Authorities outside of London and supported 800 schools through the GLA London Schools Excellence Fund (LSEF) programme.
The launch of the CentreForum report coincides with the development of the LLS London Challenge Resource Library. Launching next month, the website will offer a comprehensive catalogue of the reports’, evaluations and programme information issued during and post London Challenge.
LLS’s 2014/15 programme will begin in the Autumn term and includes interventions and programmes derived from London Challenge including Good to Great and Going for Great.