Disadvantaged areas present their own unique challenges and possibilities. Area-based initiatives (ABIs) offer an important way to respond to these, by creating opportunities to tailor action to local circumstances. With the growing policy emphasis on localism, schools, local authorities and their partners now have considerable scope to develop their own innovative ABIs. They can build on the best of their existing practice in extended services, children’s trusts, multi-agency working and community engagement to develop locally-responsive, sustainable and long-term strategies. While these are challenging times with respect to funding, ABIs also open up the possibility of working in new ways.