Report to Stakeholders: December 2021

Chief Executive Officer'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 below. They provide additional details not included here about the Trust and how we work.

Paul James

About River Learning Trust

RLT is a multi-academy trust that is committed to excellence and collaborative working. As at December 2021 we comprise eight secondary schools; 17 primary schools; and a SCITT provider (school-centred initial teacher training) within Oxfordshire and Swindon. This includes Windrush Church of England Primary School, which opened in September 2021.

In early 2022, three more schools will join RLT – Cheney secondary school and Barton Park and Bayards Hill primary schools. All three are in Oxford and previously made up the Community Schools Academy Trust.

From left: Rob Pavey (Cheney headteacher), Paul James, Bryony McCraw (Barton Park headteacher), Charley Eaglestone (Bayards Hill headteacher)

Our Schools


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


Tower Hill
New Marston
Edith Moorhouse
Garsington CofE
Horspath CofE
Madley Brook
Witney Community School
Middle Barton
Beckley CofE
Rose Hill
Seven Fields

The principles of the River Learning Trust are:

Commitment to Excellence

Striving for the best educational experience through continuous improvement

Everyone Learning

Creating and taking opportunities that enhance lives through evidence-based practice supporting adult and pupil learning

Respectful Relationship

Acting with care, integrity and fairness in all we do

Videos made by RLT schools...

How do we work?

Being part of RLT means that schools have access to a range of colleagues and collaborative opportunities to support their improvement – we aim for our schools to be ‘better faster, together’.

Central team colleagues may work with Headteachers and Senior Leaders on strategic planning, implementation of plans, quality assurance, governance, and training and leadership development as best fits the needs of a school at a particular 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 with major projects such as large scale procurement.

All of this is focussed on enabling our schools to provide the best possible educational opportunities and experiences to our children and young people, and be great places to work for our colleagues.

The diagrams below seek to represent an outline of the support we currently offer our schools. You can click on them to see a larger version:

RLT in numbers

Total number of pupils
in Primary Schools
in Secondary Schools
Primary Schools
Secondary Schools
Teachers currently in training

Hours of school improvement support to our schools

0 +

Hours of between school collaborative development and training with colleagues

0 +
0 +
Colleagues invovled

Hours of leadership training provided

0 +
0 +
Colleagues involved

Funding spent on capital investment in school buildings

£ 0

Videos made by RLT schools...

Review of 2020-2021

What have we focused on?

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

  • Supporting subject curriculum design
  • Making effective use of online platforms for professional learning, collaboration and leadership development programmes

Ensuring high standards of school performance

  • Using our Peer Review processes to identify ‘what is going well, even better ifs, and next steps’
  • Supporting quality remote education and then best practice approaches on the return to schools to accelerate progress

Supporting schools through the Covid pandemic

  • Operational support
  • Support for remote education and for vulnerable pupils in and out of school

Videos made by RLT schools...

What are we proud of?

  • Our people: the way our school communities have continued to rise to the challenges presented by the Covid pandemic and keep our children and young people at the heart of what we do
  • Continuing to see our schools improve
  • Design, development and delivery of new training and development to support Middle Leadership in schools and School Business Leaders 
  • Opening a brand new Church of England Primary School in West Witney, in partnership with the Diocese of Oxford 
  • The opening of the permanent new building of The Swan School in Oxford 
  • Staff survey – more than 1,000 responses where 94% of staff are proud to work for RLT
  • Stakeholder Survey: 90% of parents and carers are satisfied with most aspects of their school; 90% of parents and carers say their child is happy at school; 90% of pupils say their school encourages them to be kind to people of all backgrounds and treat them equally
  • Significant investment in IT and Broadband improvements, including raising over £90,000 to support the provision of IT devices for home learning
  • Investing in significant capital projects to improve sustainability, condition and the day to day experience within our schools. For example £700,000 on LED lightning and major projects on roofing, windows and internal refurbishment in a number of schools
  • Our work with external partners as part of the county-wide developments to improve provision for pupils with SEND
  • Designation as one of only 87 Teaching School Hubs in the country supporting Initial Teacher Training (our SCITT – Oxfordshire Teacher Training), and teacher professional learning and leadership development
  • Progress on our Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion strategy. For its Annual Report click HERE.

Videos made by RLT schools...

What have we learned?

We have learned that our way of working as part of RLT by ‘aligned autonomy’ is making a positive and effective difference; our schools are developing, improving and working together in a way which is supporting the aims we have for our schools, benefitting our children, young people and colleagues.

Throughout the challenges of the pandemic we have also learnt that we are more flexible, resilient and agile than we had perhaps realised. Our ability to move quickly, interpreting and implementing directives sometimes overnight, has become ‘business as usual’.

We have learned that our colleagues are more innovative, creative and resourceful than we could have hoped for. At our heart, is a focus on delivering the best that we can for our school communities, although that is nothing new.

The Swan School

What next?

The knowledge and experience of navigating the last two difficult years gives us a renewed resilience and optimism in our ability to deliver great outcomes for the young people and children in our schools.

Schools have played an important role as hubs of their local communities throughout this period and the commitment of staff and governors has been unwavering – all aspects we know we will keep.

Alongside this we’ll continue our focus on enabling our people to be the best that they can be, through training, development, coaching and support.

In addition, we will revitalise our approach to recruitment, in order to attract more great people, making it an easy and positive experience to join and then thrive in an RLT school. 

Inclusivity is a key area for us, too. As RLT grows we become an ever more diverse community of schools, and our commitment is to move forward with the delivery of our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan next year, with a focus on staff and governor training and support, and the updating of schools’ Equality Action Plans.

We will also continue our work to support the best possible provision for pupils with SEND in our schools.

During the course of the next year we will invest time and resources in moving forward our Sustainability work, producing a strategy to deliver our aim of becoming a net zero organisation as part of our Pathfinder Trust status with EnFrame. 

Finally, we look forward to welcoming three new schools to the Trust: Cheney, a secondary school in Oxford City, together with Barton Park and Bayards Hill Primary Schools, which currently form the Community Schools Alliance Trust, will join us on 1st February 2022.


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.