Buckinghamshire Challenge

Last updated:

Good education is fundamental to improving life chances and is one of the most powerful tools in lifting children out of poverty. It should provide an exciting journey of self-discovery and fulfilment, enabling children and young people to engage with the world around them and supporting them to become active and compassionate citizens. 

A good education sets children and young people up for a lifetime of learning, ambition, and achievement. The Buckinghamshire Challenge sets out to achieve this for every child. 

Educational outcomes in Buckinghamshire are extremely strong with the majority of young people across our county leaving school with very good results. However, this is not always the case for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

Disadvantaged pupils continue to achieve less well than their non-disadvantaged peers at all age phases both nationally and here in Buckinghamshire.   

We know that this is a stubborn issue that persists despite the best efforts of the whole education community in Buckinghamshire. We also know that the gap starts early, continues year on year throughout a pupil’s education and that Covid-19 and the resulting school lockdowns affected disadvantaged pupils more than others. 

The gap does not discriminate; it exists in both good and outstanding schools as well as those who are not yet good, in maintained schools and academies, in primaries and secondaries and in both schools in urban areas with high numbers of disadvantaged pupils as well as more rural schools with smaller numbers.   

We have a moral imperative to work together to make this change. This is an issue that requires a county-wide approach, an approach rooted in research evidence to ensure that the actions taken in every school and with every pupil in Buckinghamshire are targeted, focused and consistent.   

The Buckinghamshire Challenge has been a collaborative three-year programme, led by Marc Rowland of Unity Research School and governed by The Buckinghamshire Challenge Board, to collectively upskill schools in the latest research and understanding and to support schools to undertake the cultural changes that will make the biggest differences to all pupils, but especially those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged.

We hope that you are inspired by the handbook, that you feel empowered to start making changes and that you will commit to sharing the learning throughout your school.  Thank you for your support.   

The Buckinghamshire Challenge continues, with a focus for 2023/24 and beyond on linking with the Council’s flagship Opportunity Bucks programme to improve everyday lives and life chances for people in underperforming places across the county. Opportunity Bucks will enable collective resources to be coordinated to ensure that pupils living in areas of Aylesbury, Chesham and High Wycombe achieve a good standard of education and skills and access the same level of opportunity as their county-wide peers. 

We will continue to develop this handbook as our learning and experience of what really works in Buckinghamshire to address this key issue continues to evolve. 

Finally, we would like to extend our thanks to: 

  • All schools involved in The Buckinghamshire Challenge Universal Offer for committing their time, effort and focus.
  • The Buckinghamshire Challenge Champion Schools, and specifically the Champion Leads themselves, for taking on such a huge commitment and leading the charge for their liaison groups.
  • Other local authorities and national bodies for their involvement which has contributed fresh perspectives to our understanding.
  • The Buckinghamshire Challenge Board of headteachers and governors for keeping the work focused and ensuring impact.
  • Marc Rowland for his invaluable expertise, unfailing enthusiasm and dedication to The Buckinghamshire Challenge and education in Buckinghamshire.

The handbook, presentations and recordings are located HERE on the Schoolsweb for all to access and a copy of the handbook has been posted to every school.

Print entire guide

Was this page helpful?

Very poor
Neither good nor poor
Very good