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Creating a sense of agency - CEO message to RET families

Posted on: 07/04/2022

Easter 2022                                                      

Dear Families

As we race towards the end of another school year, this seems an appropriate moment to pause and take stock of what has been, without doubt, another challenging six months. The ongoing impact of covid-19 has resulted in young people continuing to miss school through self-isolation and spikes in unavoidable staff absence. We watch in horror as the war in Ukraine unfolds and, at home, inflation, energy costs and the cost of living soar. Against this bleak backdrop, the sense of community, the importance of education and the joy of working with young people in our schools is a greater privilege than ever.

I am sure you will share my appreciation for the way that our schools have jumped back to life with a myriad of supra and co-curricular opportunities for our children and young people. ‘We Will Rock You’ was a thunderous delight in February, and a wonderful example of Trust collaboration. Careers Events, public speaking competitions and sporting fixtures have proliferated. We’ve celebrated World Book Day, International Women’s Day, Chinese New Year and national Science week. Rugby and cricket have taken Didcot Girls’ School by storm - oh, and the U16 DGS football team were crowned county champions - and we turned Blue Monday (apparently the most depressing day of the year) into Balloon Monday (with brightly coloured balloons distributed with big smiles). Sutton Courtenay CofE Primary School performed a musical ‘Journey through History’ with drums, recorders, great singing and heaps of resilience. St Birinus School hosted the BIG Careers Event bringing world class STEM employers directly to our students. A highlight of the RET year takes place this week with the Dance Show at The Cornerstone Arts Centre, ‘For the Love of Dance’. Get ready to be inspired!

And yet, despite all of these frankly extraordinary opportunities, my attention has been particularly caught by the innovation I see springing up in our schools. Students are passionate about climate action and sustainability and so we have a coalition of staff and student groups leading work on re-wilding, food waste and paper reduction across our schools. Our students have raised over £4,000 for the British Red Cross Ukraine appeal through non-uniform days and bake sales. Diversity Leaders are working with school leaders and other staff and students to widen and deepen our work on equalities. For example, I was very impressed to see the welcome video for the Year 8 Take Over Challenge Day at DGS this week shared in sign language by a DGS student and the genuine care and inclusion that this speaks to. 

It’s not fair to ask young people to resolve the many issues we face in society. It is, however, possible and inspiring to see staff and students working together to create a sense of agency for young people to be the change they want to see. And surely this is part of the definition of what a really great education can provide? We want to support our young people to be the change-makers of the future. We also know that thinking of others and having a sense of purpose fundamentally supports mental health and wellbeing. 

May I send my best wishes to those families who are observing Ramadan this month and to students who will be preparing for GCSE and A level exams next term. I have sons in Year 11 and Year 13 so our Easter holiday promises to be a little fraught this year!

I wish you all a peaceful and happy break.

Rachael Warwick

CEO & Executive Headteacher

Ridgeway Education Trust

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