Building on the successful work of the SDBE

The Southwark Diocesan Board of Education (SDBE) has a distinguished record of supporting its schools over many years owing to its creditable and respected Officers and Advisers.  Schools that join the SDBE MAT will continue to have access to these educationalists in addition to their own dedicated MAT staff.  
Below are some examples of the work of the SDBE personnel:
Guidance and Support
As a small highly professional team we pride ourselves on our level of ‘customer service’. We provide swift and highly professional responses to headteachers and governors seeking advice and ensure that we afford our schools the time and dedication they deserve as a member of the Diocesan family. We work in a ‘relational’ way. Our staff members are well known and respected as professional individuals by our schools. Recent school surveys evidence the effectiveness of our team and the work they do.
In addition, we are proud of the high quality guidance and support documents we produce for Headteachers and governors covering a wide range of topics, supplemented by our extensive training courses. A comprehensive modular programme is available for full governing bodies, and we hold sessions for new headteachers on a rolling basis. Our materials are regularly updated to reflect changes in legislation and related matters. We also send out regular briefing sheets to ensure headteachers and governors are kept abreast of developments in the ever-changing educational world, and are able to advise them on statutory processes (e.g. expansion of age-range or entering into hard federations).
School Improvement
The SDBE run a huge selection of training programmes, regularly delivered and designed to suit all tiers of leadership within schools.  The feedback given regularly commends the content, relevance and delivery of those sessions.  As an example, we run a programme of training for heads, deputies and chairs of governors from schools graded Requires Improvement by OFSTED. This programme utilises the individual skills experience and talents of SDBE members in order to work with this targeted audience of delegates to bring about the improvement required in their schools. The programme sits comfortably within our ethos and encourages schools to reflect, set targets, be ambitious, and hence secure a Good or Outstanding outcome at the next inspection. The results of this programme have been impressive.  We believe passionately in the development of our staff and the sharing of knowledge and experience and use this as the foundation for our School Improvement agenda.
The SDBE recognises the strength of working in partnership to support individual schools. We have brokered several partnerships over the last few years. Each partnership has been unique and has focussed on the individual needs of the school on its journey of development. We ensure that all partnerships are time limited with clearly defined outcomes and goals as well as having robust monitoring arrangements in place. 
Religious Education
The SDBE is at the forefront of Curriculum Development in RE; we have specialist staff who lead on this area. Recently they worked alongside subject coordinators to devise a new Diocesan Syllabus for Religious Education, which is exemplary. The scheme was trialled in several schools ahead of the launch and in turn has received positive feedback. Standards of RE in SDBE schools are high and this revised syllabus will raise standards still further. A particular consideration when developing the syllabus was to ensure that it would meet the needs of non-specialist teachers in what is such a vital aspect of a Church school’s provision.
Increasingly, the SDBE is facilitating schools working collaboratively with each other based on local clusters. Over the last two years we have seen greater activity among these local hubs focusing on schools improvement, for example working in triads to triangulate evidence, joint training, and teaching and learning reviews. This work has been highly effective and offers a level of professional support set within our ethos.
Occasionally the SDBE has to intervene when a school is underperforming. Officers and Advisers pride themselves on the way these difficult situations are managed within a Christian context. We have seen the impact of removing a governing body and replacing it with an Interim Executive Board (IEB). Members of the IEB were chosen for their expertise as well as to their commitment for preserving and enhancing the Christian character of the school. A new governing body was formed at the school just prior to OFSTED Inspection that judged the school to be good with outstanding features. The SDBE has also located suitable individuals to conduct governance reviews.
Succession Planning
Developing leadership at all levels plays a significant part of our work. As well as structured training programmes we offer coaching, professional dialogue and sometimes opportunities for secondments to gain experience. Our recruitment data demonstrates that we ‘grow our own’ highly effective leaders. We recognise the challenge of leadership and ensure that those new to post are supported and sustained. We ‘talent spot’ potential leaders at a very early stage in their career. Many of our leaders state openly that they only wish to work in one of our SDBE schools. Several of our retired Headteachers become governors in our schools. There is a real commitment amongst our leaders to the Diocesan family of schools and all that we aspire to achieve. 
The SDBE provides guidance and support for its schools on admissions and appeals, working with governing bodies on developing and improving the clarity of their admission arrangements in line with the requirements of the School Admissions Code. Officers respond to school consultations and provide training for governors and Headteachers on reviewing their arrangements. Officers also assist schools where there has been an objection to the Schools’ Adjudicator, seeking legal advice where necessary and ensuring schools are supported through the sometimes complex adjudication process.
People & Human Resources
Because of their expertise and experience, SDBE staff are very well placed to advise on the full range of personnel issues that arise within schools. Recent cases have involved supporting Headteachers and governors on such staffing matters as capability, disciplinary, grievance and redundancy.
The SDBE has worked closely with governing bodies and partners to expand popular and successful schools to meet the growing population of the Diocese. Our buildings officer ensures that any expansion improves provision and is managed in such a way to maximise assets as well as not disrupt the journey of school improvement during a building programme. We have secured specific expansions to support long-term structural arrangements, for example, increasing pupil levels to ensure no mixed age range classes.