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Report to Stakeholders 2023

NMP 102

Chief executive's introduction

Welcome to our report to stakeholders, which provides a summary of developments in RLT over the past 12 months. If you haven’t read our previous reports to stakeholders the links are available on the Key Information page as they provided some additional detail about the Trust and how we work, which is not repeated here.

Paul James

About RLT

RLT is a multi-academy trust that is committed to excellence and collaborative working within Oxfordshire and Swindon.

RLT is made up of:

  • Nine secondary schools
  • Nineteen primary schools
  • A SCITT provider (school-centred initial teacher training)
  • A Teaching School Hub

More details can be found HERE about our schools.

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.  

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RLT in numbers

  • 14,821: Total number of pupils
  • 4,018: in Primary Schools
  • 10,803: in Secondary Schools
  • 28: Schools
  • 19: Primary Schools
  • 9: Secondary Schools
  • 1: SCITT
  • 101: Teachers currently in training
  • 2,076: RLT staff

What have we focused on?

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

  • Continuing the effective use of collaborative groups, including for Leaders in the following areas: Attendance, Behaviour, Curriculum, Inclusion, Safeguarding
  • Further strengthening the Trust’s Continuing Professional Learning and Development (CPLD) offer including development of our Leadership Curriculum, Trust led programmes focused on student impact (such as Instructional Coaching, including a SEND version) and targeted succession planning (such as Aspiring SENDCo), with very positive evaluation and ongoing collaboration
  • Supporting schools with specific school improvement priorities and preparedness for Ofsted
  • Development of our Inclusion Strategy (see below)

Ensuring high standards of school performance

  • Progress between primary school to GCSE outcomes at Secondary level remains strong and we know that schools that have been in RLT for longer show greater improvements over time. 
  • There remains some high standards in performance in a number of Primary schools, but we know there is too great a variation in outcomes between our schools.
  • The Trust had ten Ofsted inspections in 2022-23. These highlighted the high quality of the education experienced by our children and young people

Development of our Inclusion Strategy

During 2022-23 we extended our Inclusion / SEND work beyond the scope of the Strategic Education Plan and we developed our Inclusion Strategy.  This is in recognition of the support required by schools to enable them to meet the needs of pupils with SEND in challenging, and underfunded local and national context.  The key elements of this strategy are given below:

  • Quality First Teaching
  • Capturing the voice of ‘experts by experience’ to develop and refine trust-wide systems and school-based provision 
  • Alternative Provision
  • Specialist Support
  • Teaching Assistant workforce development
  • Liaison and strategic planning with stakeholders

What are we proud of?

  • Our people: We are proud of the way our colleagues work to support the children, young people and communities they serve.  The lives of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged are transformed by their work.
  • The work of our Trustees and Governors – all of whom give their time as volunteers. We pay particular thanks to Kirsten Robinson who stepped down as Chair of Trustees this Autumn having been with the Trust since the beginning of RLT in 2015, and before that as a Chair of Governors.  
  • How our schools continue to improve and deliver great education within a national system which struggles with inadequate funding and in particular to support children and young people with the greatest needs.
  • Our schools receiving impressive reports from Ofsted inspections; we accept the need for a regulatory framework (our work is too important not to have one), but it is also right that the way Ofsted inspects, including the use of ‘high stakes’ single-word judgements, is reviewed.
  • Our continued development in being an inclusive Trust, developing our capacity and expertise to support children and young people with SEND.
  • The further progress of our Sustainability strategy, with work across our estate to lower energy usage and through the work of our Sustainability Leads in schools.  We have invested in the installation of more energy efficient point of use water heaters and LED lighting upgrades, window and roof replacements, including increased insulation methods. All of our electricity is from renewable sources.  We have rolled out training for all staff and a handbook to support the work of our school leads.
  • Stakeholder Survey results: Over 14,000 responses from staff, pupils and parents and carers. Highlights include 86% of parents and carers being satisfied with most aspects of their child’s school, and 81% of secondary students, 92% of Key Stage 2 students, and 94% of Key Stage 1 students feel that their school encourages them to respect people from other backgrounds and to treat everyone equally. 94% of staff believe what they do makes a difference to the lives of children and young people and 89% of staff are proud to work in their school.
  • How our finance team, school leaders, governors and colleagues work together to manage budgets effectively despite the significant challenges faced by the sector.
  • Ongoing investment in significant capital projects to improve sustainability, condition, and the day to day experience within our schools.  
  • All schools are now on our Google Workspace platform which allows seamless collaboration across the Trust and more efficient centralised management of IT Support resources. Local infrastructure of many sites has been improved and internet connectivity meets or exceeds the DfE recommended standard in all schools.
  • The delivery of the Trust’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) strategy through work centrally and by schools delivering their Equalities Objectives – more detail about this area is contained in the annual EDI report
  • Ongoing work of our Staff Wellbeing Strategy and school wellbeing champions.  We know that our progress on workload and wellbeing compares well with external data (for example, averaged across all RLT, fewer than 10% of colleagues find it difficult or very difficult to manage their workload, compared to around 40% from a sector-wide survey).  
  • Our SCITT (Initial Teacher Training Provider), which trains around 100 trainees each year, has been successfully accredited to deliver training under the new DfE criteria from September 2024 The SCITT has now expanded to include hubs in Wiltshire and Berkshire.
  • The work of our Teaching School Hub in supporting Oxfordshire-wide delivery of the Early Career Framework to almost 700 Early Career Teachers and the delivery of NPQ (National Professional Qualifications) to nearly 350 Leaders across Oxfordshire.  Plus delivery of courses and conferences to over 2000 participants.
  • Our work within the counties in which we operate and nationally as we support and contribute towards change in the wider education system.

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What have we learned?

We have witnessed the pressures that many families have faced over the past year through the cost of living crisis or the ongoing impact of Covid on mental health and confidence in public services.  Combining this with the limitations of funding to schools and related local services, and most notably in relation to our pupils with SEND, creates particular challenges for schools. We often have a desire to do more than we have resources for, which places colleagues in situations where they are making difficult decisions.

It is in this context that we continue to learn both how resilient our colleagues are, and also how we are able to think differently as we seek to meet the needs of our children and young people as best we can.  We look within and beyond RLT to seek best practice and this is leading to changes in areas such as how we best support raising school attendance (which is still too low for too many across the country).

We also recognise through our work and research the importance of human connection where each person is heard, seen, known and valued.  For our colleagues, pupils and their families we continued to learn how best to develop connectedness for all in our schools and communities they serve.

What next?

As highlighted above we are thinking carefully about how we continue to build on the work we do to support human connection and ensure our schools are where everyone in a school community can thrive.  We will also continue to learn from within and outside the Trust to support school priorities and as a Trust we will continue to build capacity in our team to support our pupils with SEND.

We are talking to a number of schools about the possibility of joining us and this may see us grow by a small number of schools in the next 18 months, but in the context of ensuring that we can best serve our current school communities.

Other projects include working with the DfE with the rebuilding of Gosford Hill School and with OCC to expand The Marlborough. We also continue delivery of our strategic work including sustainability and EDI. Recruitment and retention remains a priority area for us to ensure that colleagues thrive in RLT, stay within the Trust and provide a great experience for our children and young people.


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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