About Us


The Southwark Schools’ Learning Partnership was established as a DFES London Challenge project in 2003.

It followed an initiative by Professor Tim Brighouse, the Education Commissioner for London, to promote the participation of independent as well as maintained schools in the challenge of raising the standards of all pupils across the capital to meet the ‘London Challenge’ – breaking the correlation between economic disadvantage and achievement.

History of SSLP

In the early days of his appointment of Tim Brighouse, the Commissioner organised a series of ‘suppers’ where he assembled diverse groups to seek their views on this new education initiative for London.

Two of the headteachers, Marion Gibbs of James Allen’s Girls’ School (JAGS) and Dr Irene Bishop of St Saviour’s and St Olave’s CE School (SSSO) participated in one of those sessions. The London Challenge Unit of the DfES agreed to fund four cross-sector ‘learning communities’ in South London, South West London, East London and North London. SSLP was founded as the South London response. Grainne Grabowski of St Michael’s Catholic College and Dr Joseph Spence of Dulwich College are the current co-directors of SSLP.

During the same period, the National College for School Leadership (NCSL) had launched its Networked Learning Communities (NLC) programme which invited schools to take part in an initiative to develop networks and research the impact of schools working in collaboration for the benefit of all the pupils they served. Each network was organised around a key pupil and adult learning focus, and led by two co-leaders. Each network was then allocated a facilitator as part of the programme. Although the SSLP was formed after the NLC funding had been allocated, the College invited the SSLP to participate as informal associate members and Dr Jan McKenley was allocated to act as a critical friend.