London success and how we can close the UK attainment gap – leading headteachers respond to new report

Date of press release: 
27th June 2014

London Leadership Strategy (LLS), a not for profit organisation run by experienced headteachers to empower schools to take forward school-to-school improvement in London and beyond, has today (24.06.14) responded to lessons from London schools for attainment gaps and social mobility report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies and Institute of Education.

Commissioned by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, the report found that school children from disadvantaged backgrounds (on free school meals – FSM) are securing better academic results than pupils of a similar background in the rest of England. The research found that this was due to rapid improvements in pupil performance in London's primary schools in the late 1990s and early 2000s and the national strategies, which in due course had an effect on secondary results.

David Woods, Chair of London Leadership Strategy, says:
“We are reviewing this research report, along with the myriad of others that have, and continue to be, released on the educational success of London. All of these, including major reports from the Department for Education and Ofsted, stress the striking impact of the London Challenge programmes in both primary and secondary schools, in raising standards and closing the attainment gap, whilst acknowledging some permitting circumstances.

“It is a great tribute to the heads, teachers and staff of London schools, who working with the London Challenge, Local Authorities, academy groups and a range of other partners have transformed the capital from the lowest performing region in the country in 2002, to the highest performing by 2009; a lead which it has continued to maintain and extend.”

The report has come at a time where there is great interest in what has made a difference amongst London pupils. There has been significant evidence on the impact London Challenge has had on individual schools and pupils. Interventions and programmes derived from London Challenge including Keys to Success, Challenge the Gap, school to school support, the relentless focus on teaching and learning and the use of benchmarking data have made and continue to demonstrate a marked impact on attainment gaps. London Leadership Strategy is taking forward London Challenge’s successes and strategies and adapting them to the contemporary education context.

It is important to continue the momentum that London has established and share it with the rest of England. London Challenge showed us there is a recipe for success. We must continuously learn and adapt to meet children and young people’s educational needs. Ongoing London Challenge programmes that run throughout England, as well as research in to what worked, enables us to do this through peer to peer support and evidence based practice.

We welcome the focus on primary learning to improve secondary results. The London Leadership Strategy has developed the primary support programme Successful Teaching and Learning and deployed National Leaders of Education to support primary schools.

London Leadership Strategy 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.

To find out more about the work of London Leadership Strategy, click here

Notes to editors
About London Leadership Strategy

  • London Leadership Strategy (LLS) is taking forward the legacy of London Challenge. Run by Heads and School Leaders, LLS have an extensive network of school improvement reaching across all London Boroughs as well as offering support in specific projects and partnerships across England.
  • London Leadership Strategy offer programmes at primary, secondary and within SEN and their network includes all school sectors – maintained and non-maintained, members of multi academy trusts (MATs), independent schools, free schools and Non Maintained Special Schools (NMSS).
  • LLS’s programmes support schools at every point of their development journey – from needing improvement through to maintaining outstanding provision and supports leadership from entry to the profession through to outstanding heads supporting each other.
  • London Leadership Strategy have a lead school in each London Borough; a network of National Leaders of Education (NLE), Local Leaders of Education (LLEs), Specialist Leaders of Education (SLEs) and outstanding heads and teachers and teaching school partnerships.
  • For further information, visit
  • Follow LLS on Twitter

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