News & Events

Alumnae Spotlight: Ciara Riordan

Ciara Riordan, Class of 2011

Ciara left Croydon High in 2011 and studied Primary Education plus QTS at York St. John University. After teaching for several years, Ciara changed professions to become a Metropolitan Police Detective. She is now a Senior Criminal Enforcement Officer at The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care, which exists to enhance and improve the health of millions of people every day through the effective regulation of medicines and medical devices, underpinned by science and research.

Ciara is also the Founder of The Real Project (@therealprojectuk), educating young people about the law relating to relationships, domestic abuse and violence against women and girls.

She told us that for many of her generation and before, considering relationships and sex education from a legal perspective was something that just didn’t happen in schools. As a result, many young people were subjected to sexual offences that they were not aware of. “ For some, this still has a daily impact, and many have had therapy and been on medication for mental health. This was not just a school problem – it was a societal problem. We do not educate people on the Law that is there to protect them even though the age of criminal responsibility is ten years old! Realising (years later!) what happened to my friends and me growing up lit a fire in my belly.

“My favourite role in the police was on a proactive domestic abuse high-harm team where we located and disrupted serious domestic abusers, including sex offenders and paedophiles. It frustrated me how so many victims were unaware of their rights, and as a result, a lot went unreported.

“Whilst serving as an officer, I went to New Scotland Yard and presented an initiative (including research I had gathered and surveys I had created) to the Assistant Commissioner and her team, based on creating a preventative educational approach for schools to use to help educate young people on the law surrounding relationships and sex. Unfortunately, the Met had many other issues they were dealing with at the time, so I chose to leave to pursue this initiative myself.

“I have spoken with so many people (friends, colleagues, survey participants, victims), and nearly every single woman has a story to tell about being abused, harassed or assaulted. I decided to put my teaching and legal hats on to create the Real (relationships, education and Law) Project. At the moment, we educate through social media. We are currently in the process of designing different packages for schools and Universities (including pupil, staff and parent sessions), delivering legal relationship and sex education and support agencies, and allowing children to become better informed and to know their rights. We are looking to launch in the next couple of months. I really believe this will help us combat the violence against women and girls epidemic.

“I definitely developed my outspoken nature, confidence, and drive from Croydon High, which will have played a part in me making two big career changes before turning 30 and having the confidence and ambition to start the Real Project. I most enjoyed the sports facilities, tournaments and matches. I was on the netball, tennis and athletics teams and was able to fulfil my passion through this. The trips were also great – I learnt to ski during a Year 9 trip, which I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do otherwise as my family don’t ski. I would say to my 15-year self, aim high. You haven’t got to be an A* student to succeed and make a difference!”

Ciara spends most of her spare time with her 14-year-old labradoodle, Gus and boyfriend, looking for new parks to explore. Work keeps her very busy, so she enjoys spending her free time with family and friends.

As for future aspirations? To roll out the Real Project sessions in every educational establishment.

We are incredibly proud of Ciara’s achievements, and look forward to seeing the life-changing impact of The Real Project.

Mrs Karen Roe
Alumnae Relations Manager