School operations

School Review

15. Challenge partners – roles and responsibilities

Your school review roles and responsibilities

Challenge partners are external professionals who provide impartial and invaluable support throughout the review process. They work collaboratively with other members of the panel to bring another perspective to discussions around the school’s data and practices, and take part in fieldwork. This includes classroom observations and focus groups.

Based on their experience and expertise, challenge partners advise the school on strategies to embed improved cultures for learning. They share knowledge and advice which directly assists the school to initiate improvement.

Challenge partner selection

The principal and senior education improvement leader (SEIL) select 2 challenge partners for the review. Their experience or expertise is matched to assist the school’s unique improvement journey. Principals and SEILs consider their selection from a broad range of challenge partners from the government, Catholic and independent school sectors, and from the broader community.

They may consider approaching:

  • principals
  • representatives from external or representative bodies, such as principals associations and unions
  • members of relevant community agencies, businesses, or other education partners
  • regional or central office staff from the department, such as members of regional multidisciplinary teams
  • community leaders or specialists from outside the education community.

Challenge partner professional learning

Those wishing to be challenge partners for more than one school should attend professional learning which prepares them for their unique role and responsibilities. Participants are accredited as challenge partners in school reviews after completing the professional learning. Their profiles, contact details and specialist expertise can be provided to principals and SEILs for their consideration in selecting challenge partners.

The challenge partners’ main tasks are outlined in this section. For more detail about how these tasks relate to the broader review process, and the roles and responsibilities of all participants in the review, refer to section 4 and other tools and resources listed throughout. An A3 printable checklist for the review process can also be downloaded (DOCX)External Link (staff login required).

School review participants

School review is characterised by collaboration. Every participant has a distinctive role and important responsibilities to fulfil.

A constructive and transparent school review welcomes ideas from all school community members, listens to and reflects on varying opinions, and relies on inclusive engagement and accountability.

Section 4 of the guidelines provides an overview of the roles and responsibilities for all School Review Panel members

Core School Review Panel members

Challenge partners are members who add value through expertise and challenge. Two challenge partners are used in the review process.

Details about other panel members’ roles and responsibilities are in the following sections of the guidelines:


Professional learning tasks

  • Attend the school review professional learning program for challenge partners
  • Develop a short challenge partner bio, if interested in being selected for other challenge partner roles
Tools and resources

Pre-review tasks

  • Familiarise yourself with the expectations of the challenge partner role and related responsibilities, and ensure you have the capacity to fully commit
  • Analyse the school’s Pre-review Self-evaluation (PRSE) Report and other school data to test school performance against previous School Strategic Plan goals and targets
Tools and resources

Tasks for during the review

Validation Day
  • Actively participate in identified Validation Day actions
  • Actively participate as part of the Panel
  • Take part in classroom observations focusing on student voice, agency and leadership, curriculum content and teaching practice. Report back observations to core members of the Panel
  • Take part in fieldwork as determined in methodology (nature and extent is determined by length and focus of review)
  • Contribute to developing review terms of reference (ToR) focus questions and methodology
  • Contribute collaboratively throughout the review to develop goals, targets and key improvement strategies (KIS) for the next School Strategic Plan
Post-review tasks
  • Check the Review Report for accuracy
  • Complete the post-review survey via Survey Monkey

Good review practice

Good review practice is demonstrated when challenge partners:

  • undertake professional learning for challenge partners to ensure they have the knowledge, skills and capacity to effectively carry out the role and responsibilities
  • work collaboratively through the Panel to promote a shared vision for school’s continuing improvement journey
  • bring challenge to the process through critical inquiry and exploring evidence about the school’s performance
  • offer detailed questioning about, and actively take part in, investigating the school’s performance outcomes
  • value-add to the review process by openly offering their own professional experience and expert knowledge
  • understand and respect the need for confidentiality.
Guidance chapter on the role and responsibilities of challenge partners in the school review

Reviewed 21 February 2023

Was this page helpful?