Schools Minister visits Worcester schools to view progress at Rivers Multi-Academy Trust
Schools Minister Damian Hinds MP visited two Worcester schools on Thursday (30th November) to view the progress made at Rivers Multi-Academy Trust (MAT). Worcester MP Robin Walker welcomed his successor as Minister of State for Schools to meet the trust’s founder, Kate Brunt, and local heads at two Worcester primaries Cherry Orchard and Northwick Manor.
Robin had invited the Minister for School Standards to visit the Rivers MAT in Worcester to see how they are supporting primary schools with a rich curriculum based around the Sustainable Development Goals. Unfortunately, a previous visit, designed to take place just before the founder of the trust, Kate Brunt, retired, had to be cancelled at short notice after the previous Minister was taken ill.
Robin was therefore delighted when the new Minister, shortly after his appointment, accepted the invitation. They first met pupils, teachers, and the head, Karen Banford, at Cherry Orchard Primary School in Timberdine Close, where the Minister took part in a lively discussion with year 6 pupils and heard from Mrs Brunt about the history of the trust.
The Minister toured the school and saw new facilities in its entrance hall, hearing how the trust had introduced its knowledge-rich curriculum and how pupils enjoyed learning through it. He heard how attendance has been a major priority for the school and saw for himself the lively and well-informed students.
They then went on to Northwick Manor Primary, an outstanding school where the head, Sian Williams, is retiring at the end of the year. The Minister was able to thank both Kate and Sian for their enormous contribution to education in Worcestershire and all that they have done to support the children in their care. He toured the school and challenged a class to compete with their peers at Cherry Orchard in answering questions about Parliament, a challenge that they keenly took up!
Robin, who as well as being Worcester’s MP, chairs the education select committee, said: 'It’s always a delight to welcome colleagues to visit my schools in Worcester, and I am especially grateful to the new Minister, just weeks after his appointment, for coming to visit two lively local primary schools. It was wonderful to be quizzed by pupils about our work in Parliament and to see how much they enjoy both the rich curriculum and activities on offer at both schools. Heads such as Kate, Sian, and Karen do a fantastic job, and it was great to hear of their passion for education and how they have worked together through the Rivers Trust to improve standards.
'The Government aspires for all schools to be in the family of schools, and the Rivers MAT is a great example of that, built from the bottom up by people with a passion for education. I particularly wanted to have a Minister see quite how brilliantly Kate Brunt has built up the trust before she stepped down as Chief Executive, and whilst the first chance to do this was missed, I was delighted she was able to come out of retirement to see Damian today.
'Through my select committee work, I will continue to press the Government on how they support schools and leaders, on fairer funding and on support for SEND, but it is vital to take some time to say thank you to those who have made a massive difference in education, and this was a good chance to do so. I wish Kate every joy of her retirement and Sian of hers, but I suspect both of them will stay involved and in touch with Worcester schools for a long time to come.’