Nowhere Else: Reflections on five-and-a-half years at QfL

Mar 1, 2024 | Charity leadership, Leadersihp

“I’ve been given something for a while, and the price of it is that I have to give it back.” Terry Pratchett, The Wee Free Men 

My time at Quest for Learning is over and I’m struggling to find a way of expressing how I’m feeling about that which doesn’t degenerate entirely into cliche. I could talk about the honour and the privilege of leading, or the challenges overcome, and personal growth attained. I could talk about the lessons learned, the milestones met, the risks taken, the successes and the failures. I could talk about how I’ve been changed by my experiences, what the last five and a half years have meant to me, and what new insights I will be taking with me as I start the next chapter in my story. But I don’t want to do that, because it’s not really about me.  

What I actually want to talk about is the people who aren’t leaving. The people who, day-in and day-out, ensure that the work of the charity persists, evolves, and continues to make a real difference to the hundreds of children we support every year. The people who typically don’t get the credit or the accolades and definitely aren’t in it for glory or riches. Please allow me to take this final opportunity to tell you how amazing the Quest for Learning team truly is and to urge you to let it be the reason you keep supporting and championing this wonderful charity.  

Nowhere else I’ve worked have I encountered such generosity of spirit, compassion, dedication, and resolve. Nothing that has happened during my tenure could have been achieved without the central team’s unfailing graft and willingness to flex, adapt, respond at short notice and think creatively and pragmatically about challenges that none of us could have anticipated. Make no mistakes, working for a small charity is not for the faint of heart. I wish I could say that I’m leaving them with all those challenges resolved, but my knowledge of them means that I’m confident the charity will weather any coming storms. 

And that’s without mentioning our talented tutors, whose expertise and commitment to helping each individual child grow in confidence and ability lies at the heart of what we do and reminds us again and again of the why of our existence. What QfL does works. We help children become readers and mathematicians, catch up with their peers, believe in themselves, stay engaged in education, and go on to succeed.  

This is the enduring legacy of every single person who works, or has ever worked, for Quest for Learning. And I can’t thank you all enough.   

Sian Renwick was Executive Director of QfL from November 2018 – February 2024