Challenge Partners

Challenge Partners

Challenge Partners is a practitioner-led charity, offering a range of programmes that facilitate sustainable collaboration and challenge between schools to tackle specific issues.

These programmes are grounded on the evidence of what works, regular feedback and quality assurance, and our collective learning.

Mulberry School for Girls is the lead school for the East London Challenge Partners hub. The schools in the hub work closely together providing bespoke support to one another, and sharing professional learning opportunities for staff across all schools.

To learn more about Challenge Partners, click here and to find out more details about our hub, please contact Deputy Head teacher of Mulberry School for Girls, Jo Skelhorne


Experiencing Mulberry College of Education

Experiencing Mulberry College of Education

Confidence, creativity and a love of lifelong learning underpin our approach to developing outstanding teaching.

For teaching to have the desired impact, we know that participants need to be:

  • Provided with a trusting environment
  • Encouraged to question pedagogy
  • Empowered to own the understanding of how their pupils learn and progress
  • Freed to be confident in their own practice
  • Subject experts

Colleagues are encouraged to be:

  • Critical and selective about emerging research
  • Evaluative of research through real life application
  • Understanding that a ‘one size fits all’ approach is too simplistic
  • Regularly updating their own subject knowledge

We do not:

  • Engage in the superficial implementation of national strategies or initiatives for the sake of it
  • Lose sight of our core purpose

As a result, MST classroom practitioners have developed ground-breaking pedagogy and practice which we share through bespoke professional learning opportunities, such as Fetch Me a Pen.

Fetch Me a Pen Project

Fetch Me a Pen (FMAP) is led by Mulberry School for Girls and aims to improve the teaching of academic writing in our schools, whatever the subject. Our approach focuses on working together to identify the key subject-specific literacy issues staff face, then co-construct, trial and evaluate teaching and learning strategies and resources appropriate for their subject-specific context.

The headline figures below are testimony to the impact of FMAP on raising standard at Mulberry School for Girls:

In 2018:

  • GCSE results placed Mulberry School for Girls in the top 4% of state maintained schools for P8 (including selective schools)
  • The overall progress score for disadvantaged students was 0.7. (Disadvantaged students made up 57.7% of the cohort)
  • 85% of students followed a curriculum path that enabled them to achieve the EBacc (compared to only 35% of pupils who did so nationally).

In 2019:

  • Destinations for Year 13 students have been impressive with students securing places at Oxford, Cambridge, Kings, UCL, Imperial, Queen Mary, York, Birmingham, Edinburgh, St Andrews, LSE and many more higher tariff universities
  • 44.4% of GCSE students secured a standard pass in the EBacc (double the national average – provisional data)
  • 37% of all GCSE English grades were grades 7-9 (Disadvantaged students made up 51.2% of the cohort)

Sharing best practice 

We are keen to work alongside colleagues across the country who want to improve their students’ academic literacy through high quality teaching and learning and bespoke professional development.

We can:

  • Deliver bespoke 6-9 month CPD programmes
  • Work alongside colleagues to co-facilitate and co-design a FMAP programme to be delivered by local leads and ensure sustainability
  • Offer consultancy services
  • Run individual workshops or whole staff INSET to gauge interest before a more sustained FMAP CPD programme

FMAP principles have been developed and applied across a range of subjects including science, humanities, English, languages and the arts. Therefore, any teacher committed to a professional learning programme will be suitable.

Please contact Ana Roman for further information.

Evaluation from schools we have worked with:

Taunton Teaching Alliance (Somerset):

  • “This is invaluable training and I can see that colleagues from school who have been involved are using these strategies- If only all teachers could take part”
  • 100% agreed that the programme “has given me lots of practical ideas I can take away and apply in my role”
  • 100% agreed “I believe that my involvement in this experience has had a positive impact on my effectiveness as a teacher and/or as a leader”

Lilian Bayliss School (London):

  • Lilian Bayliss Assistant Head on the benefits of external expertise: “we wouldn’t be anywhere near where we are, without that support”
  • Lilian Bayliss Assistant Head commented on how “collaborative, reflective and responsive” the programme had been. “You didn’t feel that he had a programme and you were going to get whatever he had regardless of what we needed. It was really bespoke, in response to our needs.”
  • Lilian Bayliss English 2iC talked about the impact on student writing: “their writing is so so transformed. It’s so crystal clear how much their writing has improved so quickly. They say to me “I feel so smart when I write like this”. They feel really empowered by it.”

Leadership Development

Leadership Development 

Regardless of the role, every member of staff has opportunities to develop leadership skills so that they have the confidence to take control and deliver initiatives that ensure students can fulfil their potential.

To be the best, we prioritise retaining the best. This is why our Leadership Development programmes cater to the specific CPD needs of current and aspiring leaders, providing progression routes from ITT through to Headship so that ambitious team members are given the right opportunities within our schools.

All programmes are reviewed annually to make sure we create challenging, practical and intellectually stimulating packages that encourage and enable staff to step up to their next leadership level.

Each programme explores different leadership styles so participants can build confidence in their own authentic approach to leadership.

Staff also benefit from formal and informal coaching and mentoring from leaders within the Trust as well as a wider network of highly experienced and effective school leaders who work with us.

We also run Leadership programmes for other schools and offer bespoke consultancy support on leadership development. Schools interested in learning more about these services should contact Ana Roman

Introducing our new Leadership Academy

Mulberry Schools Trust is committed to providing high quality leadership development opportunities for our staff. Our new Leadership Academy launches in September 2019 offering colleagues a range of leadership courses and bespoke coaching designed to ensure that staff have access to and aim for, further development in their roles.

A summary of the programme that will be on offer for 2019-2020 can be found here. 

Women’s Leadership Development Programme

Mulberry Schools Trust is committed to gender equality. Only 36% of secondary headteachers in the country are female, so we have devised a Women’s Leadership Programme to encourage and enable more women to access senior leadership roles in education.

The programme’s aim is what we refer to as DICE:

  • Develop effective strategies based on a sophisticated understanding of what enables/inhibits gender equality in leadership (including pregnancy and maternity)
  • Improve gender diversity, including better BME representation, in school leadership.
  • Create a support network of like-minded women committed to gender diversity in leadership.
  • Equip participants with a deep, critical knowledge and understanding of leadership through theory and practice.

Since 2015, over 150 women have participated in the programme from across London.

Testimonies from previous participants:

“A change of mind-set – I have thought more seriously about SLT and career plans for the future.”

“I have applied for a leadership role and got the job”

“An inspiring group who have helped me develop an authentic voice and vision and enabled me to understand I don’t have to ‘act like a man’ to lead. More is caught than taught – these women embody leadership”

Applications are now open for the 2019-20 cohort. Please click here for more information and how to apply.

Initial Teacher Training, NQTs and RQTS

Initial Teacher Training, NQTs and RQTS

Mulberry Schools Trust values its staff and seeks to build career progression for all those committed employees. We know that the quality of teaching offered in schools matches the quality of teachers and support staff therefore investment in a rich programme of professional development and training in the early years of teaching is crucial.

City Excellence in Teaching (CET) – Initial Teacher Training:

Mulberry School for Girls leads City Excellence in Teaching, a large cluster of primary and secondary schools in East London who offer a range of school-based Initial Teacher Training (ITT) programmes.

We recruit trainee teachers who share our commitment to social justice and our core belief that every child deserves the best quality education and outcomes regardless of background. Collaboration amongst schools ensures that trainees across CET’s programmes benefit from challenging, varied and engaging opportunities.

To learn more about CET and the ITT programmes we offer, please visit our dedicated website:

Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs)

Mulberry Schools Trust is committed to delivering and facilitating high quality professional development for NQTs to ensure the best quality of teaching, learning and outcomes for all students in our schools.

NQTs at Mulberry Schools Trust benefit from a high quality bespoke induction programme led by expert leading practitioners. They meet on a weekly basis to further develop their pedagogy and practice and engage in classroom-based research projects. NQTs from Trust schools have opportunities to network and share good practice throughout the year. As a result, our NQTs progress quickly and are often in a position to take on greater responsibilities or new experiences early in their career.

As part of our Teaching School commitment, we also co-facilitate the secondary NQT professional learning programme for Tower Hamlets Education Partnership which provides CPD for all Secondary NQTs based in Tower Hamlets who sign up for the programme. Click here for more information.

Mulberry Schools Trust is also an Appropriate Body for the accreditation of Newly Qualified Teachers employed by schools outside of the Trust. We can also run NQT programmes for other schools or offer bespoke consultancy support for NQTs. Schools interested in learning more about these services should contact: Ana Roman

Recently Qualified Teachers (RQTs)

Teachers in their second year of teaching also have bespoke professional development in school. In addition, we also co-facilitate the Recently Qualified Teachers (RQT) professional learning programme for Tower Hamlets Education Partnership which provides CPD for all RQTs based in Tower Hamlets who sign up for the programme. Click here for more information.

Introducing Mulberry College of Education



Introducing Mulberry College of Education


The Mulberry College of Education

We know students achieve better when the staff around them are motivated and highly qualified. The Mulberry College of Education was established to make this a reality for everyone working with us by providing a rich culture of professional learning, reflective practice and self-evaluation.

Our ethos of life-long learning is not just for students. We are committed to encouraging teaching and support staff to engage in professional dialogue about learning; we promote collaboration, experimentation and research into how we can best serve the needs of our students.

We support staff to focus on solutions, remove barriers and inject life into learning by using resources differently, trialling alternative environments for learning and by utilising different styles and structures.

What Mulberry College of Education offers:

  • Development of Trust-wide subject-specific and classroom pedagogy and practice 

  • Deployment of Leading Practitioners to support improvement across the Trust 

  • ITT and NQT induction across the Trust 

  • Leadership programmes across the Trust 

  • Training for headship 

  • Trust-wide CPD and training for support staff and executive officers 

  • External partnership – City Excellence in Teaching, Challenge Partners, Tower Hamlets Education Partnership, UCL Centre of Holocaust Education (Mulberry School for Girls is a Beacon School)
  • Fetch Me a Pen