THREE Oxford schools have officially joined Oxfordshire’s largest academy trust.

Cheney School in Headington, in addition to Barton Park and Bayards Hill primary schools, formally joined the River Learning Trust (RLT) yesterday.

The three schools had previously made up the Community Schools Alliance Trust (CSAT).

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RLT chief executive Paul James said pupils at the schools will benefit from ‘support and collaborative opportunities’.

He said: “Everyone at RLT is excited about working with the three schools in continuing to deliver a great education and life opportunities to children and young people.

“We believe that the children and young people at our three new schools will really benefit from the support and collaborative opportunities that staff receive, and that our current schools will also benefit from having these schools as part of our family, as they too bring expertise and valuable experience.”

The move sees RLT take its total number of schools to 28, with just two of those outside the county.

The Kidlington-based trust also oversees Oxfordshire Teacher Training, which provides school-centred teacher training.

Cheney School became an academy in 2013, before forming CSAT with Bayards Hill the following year.

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Barton Park joined the trust when it opened on the Barton Park estate in September 2020.

Headteacher Bryony McCraw said as a new school, having the support of RLT is ‘invaluable’.

She said: “It’s a huge support for us, the trust’s experience will help us grow successfully and effectively.

“Because we’re a new school, there’s a limited number of professionals on the ground but we now have a great support network at RLT.

“They’re able to offer teaching staff and there’s some really good networks with other schools, which have offered invaluable advice.

“RLT has also supported us with getting our nursery up and running for April.

“Having people with expertise and knowledge, ensuring all the procedures are in place, gives us the confidence that they’re behind us.”

Cheney headteacher Rob Pavey said in October that he was ‘looking forward to the opportunity to collaborate constructively with other RLT schools’.

He added: “We have always been keen to cooperate with our close friends and neighbours at other city schools, and the structure of being in the same trust will make that easier to achieve and more productive.

“We strongly believe this is going to be a very good thing for many, many children in Oxford.”

RLT was formed in 2015 and runs eight Oxfordshire secondary schools, with Cheney taking the total to four in Oxford – The Cherwell, The Swan, The Oxford Academy and now Cheney.

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