Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust held its Festival of Hope 2023 last month.

This year’s festival ran from 6th - 31st March and the theme was ‘Better Together’.

The goal was to bring all the schools together in the Trust and spread the message that everyone is part of something bigger and to increase student aspirations.

Sporting events were planned, a reading programme that runs across the primaries and secondaries, a travelling art exhibition with submissions from all schools and a new song was written for the Trust entitled Make our Future Bright - the video for which can be viewed on the academy’s website and involved almost all of the schools within the Trust.

Schools also set up their own community events and encouraged parents, carers and the wider community to join in the festivities in some way.

Throughout the festival there were sporting opportunities across the Trust, for students and staff to meet, engage, learn and compete with their Trust peers.

The festival was a prime opportunity to share and showcase the amazing skills and facilities that schools in the Trust possess and everyone was encouraged to get involved. The events were an opportunity to raise student aspirations and evidence that pupils are part of so much more than just a school and are in fact part of a huge family of schools within the Trust. Students from many of the primaries and secondaries participated in an indoor athletics tournament at Holsworthy College at the start of the festival and a football tournament at Okehampton College at the end. Students performed excellently.

A cross-phase art exhibition (from primary right up to secondary) was arranged which started its tour at Tavistock College and travelled onwards over the month to our other two secondaries. The Trust was so proud to see all the effort schools put into this collaborative installation. A digital art gallery of all the contributions can be viewed on the Trust’s website.

They also arranged Live Art sessions, led by an artist at three sites with a range of primary pupils attending, who had the opportunity to create a ‘DMAT Shoe’ and tour the exhibition. Many members of staff from the secondary schools commented on the students’ well behaved manner and how it was a pleasure to host these events for them. Tania Skeaping, Chair of the Trust and Sophia Clist Governor at Okehampton College, judged the secondary contributions.

During the festival month this year, each of the schools learned a song called Make our future bright. A music video was produced to showcase the participation of all the schools in the festivities. Secondary students added instrumental accompaniment to the backing track, while some of our primary students created their own dance routines, all of which can be seen in the video. Go to the website to watch this wonderful collaboration.

Reading is such an important skill and is a key focus for the Trust. Y7 students from Okehampton College took part in several ‘Book Club’ sessions at Okehampton, North Tawton and South Tawton primary schools and Holsworthy College visited Bridgerule and Black Torrington primary schools during the festival, where they used reciprocal reading strategies to lead an academic discussion on Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief with Y6 students. These sessions also played another important part of the transition journey for those pupils who will be moving from the primary to secondary phase in September.

Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust leader and CEO, Dan Morrow said: “The Festival of Hope has involved a significant range of activities for our young people raging from Year R up to Year 13, centred on art, music, sport and the wider curriculum that brings so much to the vibrancy and breadth of school experience. As the shadow of the last few years still looms heavily upon us all, centring this on hope and the belief in human potential and compassion, has been so important to the sense of identity and belonging crucial to the development of character.

“It has been a real privilege to see what our young people have produced and the care and dedication that they and the staff who steward them, have invested into this wonderful event.”