The Challenger Trust is a UK registered charity that has been working with some of the most socio- and economically- deprived areas of the UK for nearly 20 years. We help young people to raise their aspirations, develop vital character attributes and learn lifelong skills that will improve their academic achievement and future employment opportunities, whilst meeting Ofsted criteria. This is all strongly influenced by the Department for Education’s policy to encourage more 'character education' in every young person’s learning.

In 2014, The Trust became a sponsor of the Challenger Multi-Academy Trust (CMAT), a group of schools in which the ‘Challenger’ model is supported and developed: an environment for study where honesty, character and fair play are highly valued, and the Challenger Diploma is an integral part of improving standards and achieving academic success. The Trust’s duties as sponsor of CMAT are to appoint the leadership team and select the governing body, monitor the academy’s performance, reporting to the DfE as necessary, and making sure the academy spends its funding effectively.

The strategy of the Challenger Trust is now driven by an Education Sub-Committee, chaired by Trustee and former Commissioner of Schools, Frank Green. Made up of high profile individuals from the education sector, the Committee’s mission is to support DfE policy and drive forward access to character development programmes as a means for social mobility for many children.

The Challenger Trust helps schools achieve more for less and gives them the capacity to run their own bespoke, structured programme for character development. Our role is to commission, promote and evaluate successful and innovative character development programmes that ultimately increase a young person’s social mobility and life chances.

Why Support The Challenger Trust?

The Challenger Trust’s work is now more important than ever.

A report from the CBI in 2014 states that ‘employers are clear that a successful education system is one which equips young people with the attitudes, behaviours and characteristics that are needed for success in a work environment – determination, resilience, creativity and emotional intelligence, for example – are a crucial part of the picture that employers want to see as a key focus in schools’.

Research by the University of Birmingham and the Jubilee Centre for Character & Virtues also concludes that:

  • Character education is about fairness and each child has a right to character development.
  • Character is the foundation for improved attainment, better behaviour and increased employability.
  • Character results in academic gains for students, such as higher grades.

The UK Government promotes the emphasis on character. In 2014, it announced its commitment to helping schools develop students’ ‘character, resilience and grit’, putting emphasis on the building of character. The Department for Education now recognises the significance of the work we do, and has invited the Trust to work in close consultation in 2017.

Currently in the UK 11.7% of young people (16 to 24 years old) are not in education, employment or training (NEET). Research shows that NEET young people who have long periods where they are not taking part in productive activity earn less throughout the rest of their life and are more likely to find themselves in a downward spiral that can include homelessness, antisocial behaviour or crime. We believe that this cycle can be broken by giving all young people access to opportunities they would not have otherwise experienced - raising their aspirations, giving them the confidence and desire to succeed, engaging them with their education system, and ultimately encouraging academic and employment success.

There are still many schools failing to deliver an effective character development programme due to financial and time constraints that limit their capacity. The Challenger Trust is beginning to change this. With more support, we can start to drive impact at scale and really make a difference.