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Report to Stakeholders 2022

RLT news 3

Chief executive's introduction

Welcome to our report to stakeholders, which provides a summary of developments in RLT over the past 12 months. Previous versions of the Report to Stakeholders can be accessed via the Key Information page.

Paul James

About RLT

RLT is a multi-academy trust that is committed to excellence and collaborative working. As at December 2022 we comprise nine secondary schools; 19 primary schools; and a SCITT provider (school-centred initial teacher training) within Oxfordshire and Swindon. 

Our schools


  • The Cherwell School
  • Wheatley Park
  • Cheney
  • Chipping Norton
  • Kingsdown
  • The Marlborough CofE
  • The Swan School
  • The Oxford Academy
  • Gosford Hill


  • Cutteslowe
  • Wolvercote
  • Tower Hill
  • New Marston
  • Edith Moorhouse
  • Garsington CofE
  • Horspath CofE
  • Madley Brook
  • Witney Community
  • Middle Barton
  • Beckley CofE
  • Rose Hill
  • Sandhills
  • Larkrise
  • Seven Fields
  • Charlbury
  • Windrush
  • Barton Park
  • Bayards Hill

How do we work?

Being part of RLT means that schools have access to a range of colleagues and collaborative opportunities to support their school improvement – we aim for our schools to be ‘better faster together’ in a way that is sustainable over time.

We also provide a full range of operational services to schools such as finance, HR, estates, health and safety, and IT, as well as supporting major projects such as large scale procurement. 

This year we have produced a small number of short videos to help explain ‘how we work’ at Trust level to support our colleagues to enable them to provide the best possible education to our children and young people.

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RLT in numbers

  • 14,571: Total number of pupils
  • 4,078: in Primary Schools
  • 10,493: in Secondary Schools
  • 28: Schools
  • 19: Primary Schools
  • 9: Secondary Schools
  • 1: SCITT
  • 103: Teachers currently in training
  • 2,059: RLT staff

What have we focused on in 2021-22?

Delivery of the Strategic Education Plan (curriculum, professional development, leadership and governance):

  • Strengthening the Trust’s Continuing Professional Learning and Development (CPLD) offer with the addition of new programmes and collaboration
  • SENDCos and Headteachers have had increased central team support for SEND provision
  • Ongoing Quality Assurance and support for subject curriculum design and delivery
  • Continuing the effective use of peer reviews to support school improvement

Ensuring high standards of school performance:

  • Supporting schools to secure strong outcomes for our pupils
  • Progress between primary school to GCSE outcomes at Secondary level is clear with schools that have been in RLT for longer showing strong improvements over time 
  • Some high standards in performance in a number of Primary schools, whilst knowing the variations between our schools is larger than we want
  • A number of successful Ofsted inspections over the year have recognised the high quality of the education experienced by our children and young people

Supporting schools in the challenges presented by the post pandemic context:

  • Schools face additional challenges due to the limited resources of services in local areas – for example mental health support and SEND support provided by external services / local authorities. The central team has spent time supporting schools in liaising with external agencies to seek to secure appropriate support for pupils
  • Support schools with approaches to attendance and to ‘catch-up’ following the pandemic for example use of the Tutoring funding provided by the DfE to support this.

What are we proud of in 2021-22?

  • Our people: the way our school communities support our children and young people, and in particular the life changing difference this makes to the the most vulnerable members of our communities
  • Continuing to see our schools improve, which we see for ourselves but is supported by outcomes and Ofsted inspections
  • Our commitment to inclusion to support our pupils with SEND within a wider system which has limited resources
  • Design, development and delivery of new training and development to support colleagues including a new ‘CPLD’ website and more opportunities available through both ‘in-house’ and national programmes
  • Our link with the Said Business School and River Leadership to support Leaders through team or individual coaching opportunities and development programmes
  • Successful joining of Cheney School, and Barton Park and Bayards Hill Primary Schools in February 2022
  • Staff survey – over 1200 responses where 92% of staff are proud to work in an RLT school or in the central team
  • Stakeholder Survey: Over 3200 responses where 89% of parents and carers are satisfied with most aspects of their school; 88% of parents and carers say their child is happy at school; Over 9000 responses where over 85% of pupils say their school encourages them to be kind to people of all backgrounds and treat them equally
  • Careful management of our finances ensuring we are a sustainable Trust 
  • Significant development in our in-house IT support services
  • Investing in significant capital projects to improve sustainability, condition and the day to day experience within our schools. For example roofing, refurbishments, toilets, and windows across a wide range of schools
  • Ongoing work of our Staff Wellbeing Strategy and school wellbeing champions and the development of our Sustainability Strategy and developing network of sustainability leads in schools
  • Progress on our Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion strategy with training resources developed for all colleagues and significant investment in our Inclusion and SEND work
  • The ongoing success of our approach of ‘aligned autonomy’ with effective collaborative work across a range of areas including a number of new cross-trust enrichment events at both primary and secondary phases
  • The work of our Teaching School Hub and SCITT (Initial Teacher Training Provider) which supports the wider educational system


What have we learned in 2021-22?

A core principle for RLT is ‘Everyone Learning’ and this year has brought this principle into sharp focus. The section ‘What are we proud of?’ is an important reminder of many successes and we do not have scope here to describe all of the successes that our schools have achieved; which are all the more impressive when set against a continuing challenging backdrop.

Whilst Ofsted reports are just one measure of success, we are pleased that we have been able to celebrate numerous positive inspections this past year. Our aim is to enable schools to get better faster, together and where this isn’t happening as well as we would like it to, we reflect and learn so that we can improve year on year.

We know that the variation in outcomes between some of our schools is more than we would like and we are continuing to develop as a collaborative system which helps all of our schools achieve the aims we have for them.

The year has also confirmed for us once again the value of our people – whatever the role in our schools, it is our colleagues and their work with our children, young people, families, and each other which creates healthy and successful schools.

What next?

Whilst we are talking to a number of schools about the possibility of joining River Learning Trust, our focus for the next year links to our learning as we make stronger use of our system work to support and challenge schools that are further behind others in their improvement journeys.

We also continue with the progress we have made this year in moving forward with our plans to further develop our support for our schools around inclusion. 

During 2023 we will continue with our strategic plans in the areas of sustainability, EDI, IT and delivery of our capital programme, including preparation for the new build of Gosford Hill.

Alongside this we will continue to work alongside external stakeholders in the strategic planning of pupil places across all Trust schools and in leveraging the best possible support for our schools in wider local and national systems that have resourcing challenges which impact our pupils and families.

We remain focused on our crucial work on recruitment and retention, including wellbeing and  professional development for all colleagues.


The River Learning Trust
Central Team Office
c/o Gosford Hill School
Oxford Road

01865 558727

The River Learning Trust, which is an exempt charity and a company limited by guarantee, is registered in England and Wales with a registered company number 7966500. 

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