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13th May 2022

This week's message from Andrew Teale, Diocesan Director of Education 

Friday the 13th
 My family will tell you, I am not good with ghost stories. Not only have I never seen the film which shares the name of this week’s bulletin, I have no intention of ever watching it, as long as I live. My problem is, I seem to stay haunted by images and imaginings and once they are in my head, I can’t get them out again. To put it in perspective, my children were pleasantly surprised when I sat through the new Ghostbusters: Afterlife (I do recommend this one, especially if you are a fan of the original 1980s version). My children thought I’d be far too scared to watch the whole thing, but I just about managed the reappearance of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.
While walking through past the cathedral today, I saw two ghosts…but it’s not what you think. Standing on the south side looking up towards the tower. You can see the ghost of two windows. They aren’t actually windows anymore, but you can still see where they were. A ghost of the way the cathedral once looked for onlookers standing in the same spot as me. ‘Shadows of the past’ might be a better description than ghosts.
Thanks to the pandemic, formal testing school children with externally marked examinations was (until this week) another shadow of the past. Not since the summer of 2019, have schools had to administer test papers to primary school children. These ‘standard attainment tests’ or SATs give an external benchmarking of the capabilities and skills of our 10 and 11 year olds as they reach the end of year 6.
Our secondary schools are also under huge pressures as 6 weeks of formal, high stakes assessments are now underway too. Exam season has returned in spite of all the disrupted learning. Last year’s teacher assessments are no longer good enough measures. A chance for our young people to show what they have learned can be a very positive thing, but it is always a huge worry that they won’t achieve the keys they need to open the next doors in their future life.
In my years as a headteacher in 3 primary schools, every successful OfSTED inspection needed to be underpinned by ‘good SATs data’. The statistical demonstrations of how well you were doing as a school got more and more complex, including projections of how well you were about to do combined with how well you did for the last three years. They became a heavy focus of curriculum activity in school and as SATs got closer, preparation became more intense. We needed to ensure that children did as well as possible, but at the same time wanted to ensure children did not feel under too much pressure.

It may be surprising to some just how central these tests became. Progress + Attainment = Achievement. (Think of Attainment as the height of the hot air balloon, progress is how much it has risen to get there). The evaluation of performance at each education phase is determined by the one before. Early assessments in reception suggest how well a child might perform at the end of KS1. KS1 assessments set a ‘flight path’ that is acceptable by the end of KS2 and KS2 assessments are the anchor point for GCSE performance. So, in today’s language a child that does not meet ‘the expected standard’ in year 6 has lower expectations for performance in GCSEs, 5 years later. Conversely, a child that scores highly in year 6 tests is expected to do well in their GCSEs (all of them).

Click here to continue to read Andrew's message.

Reminder Headteachers & Governors
Education White Paper Q&A Session

Tuesday 21st June 2022: 1.30 - 3.00pm OR Monday 27th June 2022: 5.00 - 6.30pm.

Thank you to those who have already booked their places. Updates will be given on the HDBE Academisation guidance since the autumn term and there will also be an opportunity to discuss and share the implications facing school leaders over the next 8 years.  These briefing sessions are FREE to all headteachers, governors and trustees of church schools and academies in the Diocese of Hereford.  Please click here to book your place.
SIAMS Inspections Important Update

The National Director of SIAMS led an update for all dioceses on 5th May 2022 and the following points are a summary of the update:.

  •  There will be a vastly increased capacity for inspections in the next term with many inspectors undergoing training at or awaiting their signing off inspection  
  • The new list for SIAMS inspections in the the academic year 22/23 will be published by the end of the summer term. Schools on the current list who have not had their inspections by that date will be included and should expect their inspections by the end of the autumn term.
  • The COVID policy has been updated on the national SIAMS webpage SIAMS Inspections | The Church of England.
  • From September 2022 the following lines referring to school data will be reintroduced, having been removed during the pandemic.  
  • Strand 7 (RE) ‘Based on the data available at the time of inspection and paying due regard to context, pupils make good progress against local expectations (KS1-3) and national averages for GCSE’.
  • Strand 1 (Vision and leadership) – ‘Based on national assessments available at the time of the inspection, progress information provided by the school and paying due regard to context, the school is at least in line with national averages in progress statistics.’
  • Some inspections may include a Quality Assurance inspector. School will be informed of this before the inspection. The additional inspector is there to inspect the process and inspector, they are not inspecting the school.
  • SIAMS reports are no longer uploaded to A Church Near You website, they will eventually be live on the SIAMS webpage but it is not fully functioning yet. Schools should upload to their own website. We also ask that you also send us any new SIAMS reports.

There is still an opportunity to attend the Diocesan SIAMS training this academic year for school leaders and governors.  Please see training courses detailed in the section below.

Forthcoming Diocesan Online Training & Development Highlights

SIAMS Training and Support

RE & Christian Ethos Governance

If you would like to talk through any of the support and training on offer from the Education Team, please contact us via email at or call on  07539 372748.

Collective Worship  - Love is...

Next week’s worship exploring ’Love is…’  We reflecting on the words from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. There are lots of opportunities to pause and ask for pupils thoughts in this week’s video (hence it is slightly shorter).
If you would like your school community to benefit from our weekly Collective Worship Videos, please contact the Education Team at or call on 07539 372748 and we can talk through the Partnership Agreement options available to you.

Reminder for Clerks to the Governing Boards

Often the end of the academic year can be a time of change for governing boards and we would like to politely remind all clerks to update the diocese of any governor resignations, forthcoming changes in Chair of Governors or prospective Foundation Governor appointments.   

The last opportunity to appoint any maintained school Foundation Governors before the next academic year will be at the DBE meeting on the 7th July 2022.  Therefore, we ask for all appointment and reappointment forms to be submitted to by the 27th June 2022.  For more information and copies of all relevant forms and guidance, please see our Governors website page.

Academy foundation member and trustee appointments are approved by the Diocese of Hereford Educational Trust (DHET) and their final meeting of the year is on the 28th June 2022.  We kindly request all forms are submitted by 17th June to ensure the appointments can be considered before September 2022.  Please see our Academy website page for more information. 

Our next Clerks' Forum will take place on the 24th May 2022 (3.00 - 4.00pm) and all clerks are warmly welcomed to this termly event, please complete our booking form if you would like to reserve your place.

Kingsland are English Schools’ FA National Champions!

For the first time in its 176-year history, Kingsland CE Primary School are English Schools’ FA U11 7-a-side Schools’ Cup 2022 NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!  Headteacher, Stewart Debenham said, "We are extremely proud of our fantastic football team and what they have achieved this year. They have demonstrated excellent team work and epitomised our school vision of ‘let your lights shine’.” 

Everyone in the Diocese sends our sincere congratulations to the team, coaches and to all involved.  They will never forget those games that led them to the cup, those memories are priceless and will shape their character for years to come.

Andrew Teale's Message Continued...
The new OfSTED inspection framework is designed to be a bit less focussed on formal test & exam data and has already encouraged a broader more balanced curriculum. Time spent judging the detailed progress data with the headteacher has been replaced with deep dives into history or science or music. We saw a few inspections with this shifted focus up until March 2020, while SATs were still in place, but then the pandemic hit and there were no SATs in 2020 or 2021. Not only were there no SATs but there was no SATs data either.
For secondary schools we now see a difficult short circuit in the assessment system. Even without exams in 2020 and 2021, pupils still ‘received’ GCSE results through various (fairly controversial) methodologies. Exams are back this year, albeit with some limited curriculum narrowing in some subjects. Year 11s have been through huge disruptions to their learning in recent months, as well as the last two years. With no primary school SATs in 2020 or 2021, progress for the 2025 GCSE cohort will be difficult to evaluate, so too in 2026. This year’s SATs will be quite flaky so the 2027 GCSE progress might be difficult too. All being well, by 2028, we’ll be back in business. So ‘back to normal’ is still a long way off in some respects.
When OfSTED resumed inspections a year ago they had to be even less focused on the statistical indicators of performance and instead, look in books and talk to children. Curriculum coherence began more significant than the statistical indicators of progress in year 3.
For me, the chain of expectation from one high-stakes assessment to the next, comes with a major health warning. Low expectation delivers low performance. I’ve seen it in every underperforming school, I’ve ever worked with, and research supports the hypothesis. If you want to take a school out of ‘special measures’, start by raising expectations and recalibrate judgments about what pupils ‘should’ be capable of. Perceived lower performance in early stages of education drive expectations down for later performance. The ghost of underperformance at KS2 can haunt a child for the rest of their education pathway.
Testing knowledge and understanding in itself, is not a bad thing, of course. It a great teaching tool and shapes what needs to be taught next. They also provide motivation and focus. The problem is the high-stakes categorisation and defining influence of these assessments that can be so soul destroying if it is accepted as fixed and unchangeable. ‘I am rubbish and I’ll always be rubbish. I am a failure, and I always will be.’
This week the ghosts are gathering again and I pray for deliverance.
There is a noticeably different tone in schools this week as they are required to put young children through their exams, after 3 disrupted academic years with high staff absence, low attendance, remote learning and closed bubbles.  I’ve seen pupil anxiety and I can see that the professionals are anxious too, because it doesn’t feel right to be doing it and they know that there is still a great deal at stake for individual children if they slip up.
But no ghost in God’s created kingdom, can stand in the face of Jesus, apart from the Holy one. Our staff are His hands of deliverance when they try to keep it all ‘low key’ and ensure every child has exactly the help they need. We are His hands when we open the school early to offer a lovely breakfast, so they are not distracted by low blood sugar. Our staff are His hands when they care for mental well-being with a fun volleyball game to burst the stress bubbles. Our staff are His hands when we support and encourage our year 11s to keep calm and carry on.
I retweeted a poem written by Haydee Jones, written for her daughter, which went viral in 2019. In case you haven’t seen it…
SATs don't measure sports, SATs don't measure art,
SATs don't measure music, or the kindness in your heart.
SATs don't see your beauty, SATs don't know your worth,
SATs don't see the reasons you were put upon this earth.
SATs don't see your magic, how you make others smile,
SATs don't time how quickly you can run a mile.
SATs don't hear your laughter, or see you've come this far,
SATs are just a tiny glimpse of who you really are.
So sitting at your table, with a pencil and your test,
Remember SATs aren't who you are, remember you're the best.

Collect for the 4th Sunday of Easter
Almighty God,
whose Son Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life:
raise us, who trust in him,
from the death of sin to the life of righteousness,
that we may seek those things which are above,
where he reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Thank you for all you are doing in schools at this difficult moment in the school year. God knows it is made so difficult because you care so deeply about the well-being and the future flourishing of every child in your care.
Blessings and best wishes for a restful weekend.

Canon Andrew Teale
Diocesan Director of Education

For further information and updates from the wider Diocese please see the regular bulletins issued by the central communications team.

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