September 21st, 2016

Education social enterprise Challenge Partners set to expand with support worth £692,000 from SBT

Challenge Partners, a social enterprise that aims to improve the quality of school education nationally, has been awarded investment worth £692,000 by Social Business Trust (SBT).

As a result, it plans to grow to help nearly 500,000 students a year by 2021, up from 193,000 children in over 360 schools currently.

The investment includes a package of expert hands-on business support and a cash grant. It will enable Challenge Partners to establish the dedicated business development function needed to deliver large-scale growth. The package will also help to strengthen its account management team and finance systems.

Business expertise will be provided by SBT’s seven corporate partners, with Bain & Company, Clifford Chance, EY and Permira taking the lead. British Gas, Credit Suisse and Thomson Reuters are also giving support.

SBT has worked with Challenge Partners since 2014, with initial support focused on strategic development and governance. Help has included Bain & Company partner Lili Chahbazi working with the organisation to shape its strategic direction and Chris Davison, a partner and head of investor relations at investment firm Permira, joining the board of trustees.

Established five years ago, Challenge Partners brings together groups of schools and academy trusts in a national and smaller localised networks to share best education practice. The approach is based on the London Challenge, a programme that transformed the quality of education in London state schools particularly for children from low-income families.

Evidence shows that Challenge Partner schools outperform comparable schools that do not belong to the network.  Challenge Partner schools have also been shown to break the well-documented link between poverty and low educational achievement more quickly than non-network schools.

SBT’s CEO and Co-founder Adele Blakebrough MBE said, “Every child in the UK is entitled to a good education regardless of their background or where they live. Schools in Challenge Partners’ networks consistently outperform those that are not. For that reason, SBT is delighted to award it further investment so that it can help even more children across the UK get access to the calibre of schooling they deserve.”

Challenge Partners’ Managing Director Mark Goodchild said, “For the last five years we have grown mainly by word of mouth. SBT’s generous investment package means we will be able to put in place a business development team and invest in our infrastructure so we can grow in a structured and planned way and more schools can improve the way they teach.”

“Our aim is to become the leading network for school excellence and to improve educational attainment for all young people. Thanks to SBT, we are another step closer to getting there.”