Please enjoy reading Rachael Warwick's article in the Education YearbookPosted on: 09/06/2022
Finding Joy and Creating Agency in our Schools
The ongoing impact of covid-19 has resulted in many young people continuing to miss school 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 and the joy of working with young people is a greater privilege than ever.
The schools in Ridgeway Education Trust, Didcot Girls’ School, St Birinus School and Sutton Courtenay Primary School, have jumped back to life with a myriad of co-curricular opportunities. ‘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. We turned Blue Monday (apparently the most depressing day of the year) into Balloon Monday (with brightly coloured balloons distributed with big smiles). A highlight of the year took place in April, the RET Dance Show. Inspiring!
And yet, despite all of these frankly extraordinary opportunities, my attention has been caught by nascent innovation. Students are passionate about climate action and we have groups leading on re-wilding, food waste and paper reduction. Students have raised over £4,000 for the British Red Cross Ukraine appeal. Student Diversity Leaders are working with school leaders to widen and deepen our work on equalities.
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.
I am proud to be able to support the work of so many extraordinary young people.
CEO and Executive Headteacher
Ridgeway Education Trust