A termly update to all governors in church schools from Dan Roberts at SDBE, the Salisbury Diocesan Board of Education.
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Thank You, Governors!

Dear fellow governors,

We are entering a really exciting new era!

For church schools and academies, this is most obviously marked by the introduction of the new SIAMS evaluation schedule.
Inspiring the heart of this new era is the ambition for all church schools to have a deeply Christian vision that is so deep and so tangible that this ‘ethos’ is not merely a thread within the whole but that it is the very fabric upon which the whole is woven.

This emphasis was first articulated in the Church of England Vision for Education published in 2016 and in many ways the journey between then and now has felt somewhat similar to the season of advent. Although the mention of this season may seem somewhat premature for a newsletter in this half of the Autumn Term, drawing the parallel between advent as the first season of a new church year and the aforementioned ‘new era’ seems now to be particularly appropriate.

For Salisbury Diocesan Board of Education, we have been through our own advent this year as we have worked out our new 5 year Strategic Plan within the undergirding vision of ‘living out God’s transforming presence’. Like SIAMS, some aspects of the old will transfer into the new but also like SIAMS, a close look at the new exposes a fresh vitality and energy that is driving innovation and transformation, and paints a picture that is as compelling as it is deeply challenging. To view our new Strategic Plan 2018-2023, click here.

Thinking on all of these things has drawn me to Proverbs 27:19;
“As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart” (or in some translations “so others reflect your heart back to you”).

For us as Foundation Governors, and for all those involved in leading in church schools and academies, an almost forensic examination of the ethos that lies at the very heart of our schools will be the hallmark of all that we now do as we enter this new era. The growing emphasis on ‘ethical leadership’ in the national conversation will put us in our governor roles, and our church schools and their leadership teams, right in the spotlight.

At the SDBE, our new strategic journey is driven, as it ever was, to walk alongside you all in our sharing of the servant leadership role. In this new era, the development of our spiritual leadership will be our focus as we seek to more fully reflect the face of God in all that we do as individuals and together.

As in the Proverb, we will know partly from what is said by others (Ofsted, SIAMS, challenge and support partners) whether the heart – of our schools, of our governance – is what we thought and hoped it was. However it is through committing wholly and rigorously to the self evaluation process, and engaging with powerful resources like Ethos Enhancing Outcomes, that we will be further enabled to look deep into the water to see what really lies therein.

This new era, perhaps more than any other previously, will call upon us to bring together the skills, knowledge and understanding we can all contribute from a ‘lived faith in action’ (‘Sustaining Hope in School Leadership’, Flintham, 2014, Grove Booklet eD22).

It is my prayer therefore, as we move forward into a new academic year that has challenge written all over it, that we will be filled with hope and sustained by faith. In the words of Matt Redman, that we will also fulfil our calling into governance through our ‘longing just to bring something that’s of worth, that will bless Your heart’ (1997, Thankyou Music).

Dan Roberts, SDBE Foundation Governor Adviser, September 2018.


Throughout this document, ‘governors’ refers equally to ‘trustees’, ‘directors’ and ‘members’. Furthermore the ‘SDBE’ means the ‘Salisbury Diocesan Board of Education’. Click a link to jump to a section.

Latest News and Updates from the SDBE Office 

1.    SDBE Strategic Plan 2018-2023
After an extensive consultation that involved many of you, and a great many conversations and prayerful reflections across the Diocesan team, the Strategic Plan for the next 5 years in the life of the SDBE is now complete. Many of you will have already spotted our new vision statement ‘Living out God’s transforming presence’, and in addition to this, there is also a new ‘vision vessel’ proudly on display in the foyer of the Wilton office. As mentioned above, this is a vital moment for us at the SDBE and it will crucially inform all of our future work.

2.    SIAMS
The new SIAMS (Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools) Evaluation Schedule came into effect on 1st September.  There has been an incredible response to the offer of training by the SDBE to support school leadership teams, including governors, and the team here are looking forward greatly to meeting hundreds of you on this training over the coming months. More details on any of the courses we offer in relation to this, as well as information on all other courses, can be found here.

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National Round-Up (and other updates that you may have missed)

3.    Curriculum matters
Every primary school in Britain to be twinned long-term with a farm as a means of 'growing' farming into children's lives, and also for them to shape farming in return.
It’s one thing to believe nature is good for kids and another thing to establish habits that put that belief into practice. Gardening is the sort of activity that can bridge this gap, whether this is done in an outdoor space or in a couple of pots at home. Children who grow their own fruit and veg and cook it are more likely to eat it: they will understand where it comes from, will feel a sense of achievement and will be excited to eventually see it on their plate. This promotes a sense of ownership and responsibility, as well as a much deeper connection with nature and, last but not least, improves the eating habits of young gardeners.”

4.    Ofsted
5.    Governance Key findings included:
“The proportion of respondents without vacancies on their governing board at the time of responding has been gradually falling from 42% in 2016 to 38% in 2017 and 34% this year.”
“Governing boards seem to be getting smaller over time, with the proportion of respondents who had up to 10 governors or trustees on their governing board rising from 17% in 2013 to 38% this year while the proportion with 16 to 19 governors or trustees fell from 23% to 7% over the same period.”
“We asked people what had motivated them to become involved in school governance. The most frequently cited reason was making a difference for the children (67%), followed by utilising existing skills and experience (61%), serving the community (60%) and interest in education (56%) and an interest in governance (38%)…29% had been asked to join.”

6.    Data and Standards
  • Department for Education (DfE) article;
  • Information for the SDBE Advisor Team regarding changes to performance measures;
From September 2019, the terms ‘floor standards’ and ‘coasting schools’ will be no longer be used. Instead, the DfE will introduce new performance measures to enable RSCs (Regional Schools Commissioners) to identify schools that might need additional support to improve. These terms will remain in use as interim measures during 2018/19 and will be used by RSCs to identify which schools may need extra support. The measures will have no other consequences. RSCs will contact the school’s trust to establish whether the school needs additional support. The intention is for schools to be treated on a case-by-case basis. From 1st September 2018, inspectors will not report whether a school meets floor standards or is coasting.

7.    Staffing and Leadership
8.    Academies and Free Schools Extract:
 “The new openers announced today take the total number of these schools open to 520 since 2010 and means more than 120 in 152 local authorities now have at least one free school, studio school or university technical college in their area. The Department has committed to approving a further 110 new schools by 2020.
"The new schools open as 20 local authorities across the country are set to receive a share of a £50 million funding boost to support the creation of new free schools where they are needed most. The Presumption Free School Grant will help pay to build the new free schools and will create around 15,000 places across the country. The Department will work closely with the 20 local authorities selected for the Presumption Free School Grant to support the building of the new schools.” Summary;
“In the rush to convert large numbers of schools to academies, the Department did not pay enough attention to ensuring that its scrutiny of applicants was sufficiently rigorous. It is now strengthening how it examines prospective academies’ financial viability and sponsors’ ability to improve the schools they are taking on, but these issues should have been addressed much earlier and the changes do not go far enough. It is particularly worrying that the Department still does not seem to be learning the lessons from high–profile academy failures that have been costly for taxpayers and damaging to children’s education.
"The one-off costs to the Department for Education of converting schools to academies have been £745 million since 2010–11, but the full cost of conversion, including spending by schools and local authorities, is unclear. We are concerned, however, that the Department is failing to give a clear sense of direction for maintained schools, academies, local authorities, pupils and parents. Its policy for converting schools to academies is unclear, and there is substantial regional variation, not only in the extent to which schools have become academies but also in the quantity and quality of support available to struggling schools.”

Comment from Committee Chair, Meg Hillier MP:
"The interests of pupils should be paramount in education but the increasingly incoherent schools system is putting this principle at risk. Government’s haste in pushing ahead with academisation has come at a cost, with high-profile failures indicating significant weaknesses in its assessment regime.
"The DfE accepts it should do better and we expect it to demonstrate it understands the reasons for these failures and will act on the lessons. It must strengthen scrutiny of prospective academies and sponsors.
"We are also concerned about how the stated aim of academisation—to drive up educational standards—is panning out in practice. There is a risk that pupils at poorly performing and smaller schools, less attractive to academy trusts, will be left behind. Costs associated with conversion can reduce funding available to local authorities to support remaining maintained schools. Academisation can also undermine councils’ ability to provide school places. Oversight of the sector has become confusingly complex, which can place unnecessary burdens on schools and risks weakening decisions in the conversion process.
"Government must meet these challenges and be far clearer about the direction of travel if stakeholders, not least parents and pupils, are to have faith in its approach."

9.    School and Academy Finance
10.    SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities)
11.    Early Years
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And finally...

Continued Professional Development
Don't forget, our training courses are being updated all the time. Search for the latest ones here. If you have a query, feel free to contact Claire Kielty, as below.
Thank you again for all that you do; thank you, governors!


Dan Roberts
SDBE Foundation Governor Adviser
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Main Contacts

Foundation Governor Adviser
Dan Roberts
01722 746952
Dan leads on governor strategy and works with schools and parishes in governor recruitment, retention and training.
Education Services Assistant
Pam Clemett
01722 746952
Pam handles data processing for governor body members, minutes of meetings and renominations.
Course Administrator
Claire Kielty
01722 746943
Claire administers all our courses, including bookings.
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