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28th January 2022

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

Candlemas and Support Staff
 I can’t believe I’m already writing the last January bulletin. I’ve only just stopped saying happy new year to people and before you know it Candlemas is on the horizon. Candlemas is on Wednesday 2nd February. It often gets overlooked in school worship, but it really is quite an important day in the church calendar. It is the day we think about and read about the presentation of the young Jesus at the Temple. Luke 2:22-40 gives us a vivid account of the encounter between Mary, Joseph, Simeon and Anna.
Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
Traditionally, this is the day that the candles which will be used in church for the rest of the year, are blessed, hence ‘Candlemas’. For some it is the day that their Christmas trees are taken down as Epiphany comes to an end and the church calendar switches to ‘ordinary time’ which lasts until Ash Wednesday on 2nd March.
In the arc of the Gospel narrative, Advent, Christmas and Epiphany are full of accounts of those who played the supporting roles which enable Jesus to reach adulthood and eventually begin his world changing ministry. Since the first Sunday in Advent, we have read of Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zechariah, a donkey, an innkeeper, Shepherds, Angels, Magi, Simeon, Anna & John the Baptist.
Every school knows how essential our support staff are too. All the schools I’ve ever worked in were heavily dependent on our dedicated support staff. When I was a class teacher, the help and support I received from wonderful teaching assistants, made an enormous difference both to the quality of education we could provide and to my own mental well-being. There were countless moments where an exhausting day was made just a little easier by the cup of tea being brought to you on the playground while you were on duty. I especially remember as a young teacher at Wigmore and in Nottingham, where the classroom assistants, who were far more experienced than me at life in a primary school, offered reassurance, encouragement, guidance, sympathy and lots of coffee. When I was a deputy headteacher at Ivington, spinning lots and lots of leadership plates and a very full teaching commitment, I just could not have managed had I not had the help of our support staff.
Our schools have seen rising infection rates once again in recent weeks. Staff absence rates have risen again and schools have had to chop and change staff to cover every classroom. Often it is the support staff who have enabled education to continue for countless children.

Click here to continue to read Andrew's message.

Important SIAMS Updates

Pausing of Inspections update: We have received further notice regarding the pausing of SIAM inspections from the national SIAMs team. They will not resume next week and will remain suspended until Monday 21st February, for triggering for the following week. See the full letter from Margaret James attached.
Self Evaluation Advice: The ‘Information for schools’ has also been updated this week, to reflect current guidance on grading and Self Evaluation. Please see the attached guidance.  Please note that schools are asked not to grade themselves on their full SEF or summary SEF.
SEF templates: To support you in the Self Evaluation process the national team have provided model templates or both the full ongoing SEF and the summary SEF to send to the inspector. These are for your guidance only, schools may choose their own format for both the ongoing SEF and the summary SEF to suit their purpose and context.  
Excellence: You are no longer asked  to make the case for Excellence. Instead the current advice is that the evidence that you provide of impact and the language used will indicate whether you are working at Good or whether it would prompt the inspector to consider Excellence within their lines of enquiry.  Please refer to the latest SIAMS evaluation schedule sections on Excellence (p.18-20 onwards) to explore this in more detail.
We will be discussing SIAMs at the Heads briefing next week on the 3rd February. Including hearing from the two schools who have received inspections this academic year.

Final Call
for this Term's Headteacher Briefing 

Thank you to those who have booked their place on this term's Heads Briefing Online Session on the 3rd February 2022, from 1.30 - 3.00pm. If you have not already let us know you plan to attend, please complete the online booking form.

The first hour of the session will be an update for all our church school headteachers, but an additional call is going out to the Heads of our VA church schools.  In the final half hour (2.30 - 3.00pm) we will be discussing critical aspects of property management and School Conditions Allocations (SCA) applications and your input is very important to us.

Final call for the Church of England Net Zero
National Focus Group for schools 

Thursday 3rd February from 4-5pm.  This national online meeting is focus group for school leaders, governors, diocesan officers and members of the school community to discuss and respond to the Church of England consultation on the 10 year Action Plan to reach Net Zero. Note this session will be recorded. 
Join Zoom Meeting:
Meeting ID: 950 5352 6837            Passcode: 532324

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 Video 

Candlemas : Light of the world 
Next week’s collective worship video focusses on Candlemas which is celebrated on Wednesday 2nd February.  Mark explores the message given by Simeon about baby Jesus’ future in Luke 2. Partnership schools will  receive the video link and a take away worship sheet for further worship activities for use at home and in class.  
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.
Pupil Led Worship and a COMPETITION!!
The Education Team is working on a project to provide a training guide for pupils leading worship, and would like your help. We would love to use photographs of collective worship  from across our schools showing pupils involvement. These will need permission to be shared beyond school, as they may be used in the final course materials.  Please email your high quality photos or a link to download them.

All schools who contribute photos will be entered into a draw to win a free copy of the primary RE resource book Inspirational People’ (RE Today).
In the meantime, The ‘Faith in the Nexus’ project based at NICER have recorded a webinar exploring research into  ‘Spiritual leadership by children in church primary school pupils.’ You can watch the recording here:
Courageous Advocacy
Looking for a programme that supports pupils to develop leadership and character through social action? Find out more about the Young Leaders Award Programme through the free online sessions for both Primary and Secondary schools, including ‘Introduction to Character Education’ sessions with input from Dr Tom Harrison at the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues. Find out more and sign up at
Key Stage 1 Young Leaders Awards - discounts available

Discover how you can help your younger pupils explore character virtues and leadership skills via the video introduction to the KS1 Young leader Award, Schools who sign up 10 or more pupils at KS1 are offered a 10% discount, available until 18th February with the code NEW-KS1-10. To find out more please contact  or visit

Andrew Teale's Message Continued...

I attended the funeral of Caroline Byard this week. Caroline was a much-loved teaching assistant at Luston Primary School. I know that the school, as well as the family are heartbroken by her loss. She will have made an important difference to the lives of many, many children and staff through her caring and cheerful work in school, each day. She will not be forgotten.
The love shown to children in school by support staff in classrooms and school offices, dining halls and on playgrounds is as important to a child and young person, as the work of their teachers. It also makes a huge difference to those teachers.
Both in primary and secondary schools, support staff are too often the unsung heroes of our education system. Perhaps next week, maybe on Candlemas, it would be nice to light a candle and pray a blessing on all of our support staff in schools across the diocese. We love them and their work changes lives in schools every single day.
Prayer for Candlemas
Lord God, you are the source of everlasting light.
Your son, our beloved Lord Jesus 
was presented in the temple 40 days after his birth.
He was recognised by Simeon and Anna, 
and welcomed as the promised Messiah.
May we like them, behold the glory of the Lord Jesus.
Grant that we may stand before you 
with hearts cleansed by your forgiving love.
May we serve you all our days 
and make your name known 
as we worship you as our Lord. 
So may we come by your grace 
to eternal life .


Thank you for all your efforts in the third full week of the spring term. Blessings and best wishes for a restful weekend.
Kind regards,

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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