The Process of a SIAMS inspection
A list of schools to be inspected for the next academic year is sent to the Church of England Education Office National Society during the previous summer term. For example in May 2017 a list of schools to be inspected during the academic year 2016-2017 was sent to the National Society. Schools are selected for inspection on the basis of scheduling as outlined on the Church school inspection page of this website.
This generates the required grant contribution from the Department of Education (DfE) to go towards the cost of the inspection.
On a termly basis the SIAMS Manager allocates an accredited denominational inspector to each school to be inspected but the inspector does not know the name of the school until 5 working days before the inspection is scheduled to take place.
The headteacher receives a phone call from the SIAMS Manager or a member of the administrative team of the Chelmsford Diocesan Office usually 5 working days before the inspection is scheduled. This phone call informs the headteacher of the forthcoming inspection and of the name of the inspector. The notice period is no more than 5 working days. See the chart below for an example of how the process works:
The inspector will also use the telephone conversation to discuss with the headteacher key aspects of the inspection process and request any documentation.
The Church of England Education Office (National Society) have produced a framework for the inspection of church schools and also a self-evaluation schedule . The inspection is based on these two documents. They provide a useful support for a school’s development as a church school and a school’s self-evaluation should be based around them (see Schools and Academies – self-evalution section).
For further details of the 'before,during and after' process surrounding a SIAMS inspection please download this document.
Deferral of a SIAMS inspection
There is strict guidance as to when and if it is possible to defer a SIAMS inspection because of exceptional circumstances. This comes from the Church of England Education Office (National Society) in agreement with the Department for Education. If a deferral is granted the SIAMS inspection must take place within six working weeks of the original date.
The link here outlines the details of the exceptional circumstances that may lead to a deferral being granted. If the headteacher of a school about to be inspected believes that his/her school may be granted a deferral under ‘exceptional circumstances’ he/she should speak urgently with the SIAMS manager, Pamela Draycott - mobile 07806 796082 or send her an email.
Before the inspection
- The school makes sure that its self-evaluation documentation is completed and sent to the Inspector. A suggested template can be found in the Preparing for Inspection section
- Most recent OfSTED inspection report and the previous denominational inspection report. It is good practice to have these available on the school website
- The inspector and headteacher will need to agree any other documentation such as policies that will be sent to the inspector before the inspection. It is usual to provide at least some of the following – summary of parental, pupil and staff surveys relating the school as a Church school, summary of performance data (ideally showing trends – so 3 years is great) – general and for RE specifically, SIAMS action plan and the school development plan, relevant school policies (most of which are probably on the school website) e.g. RE, worship, equal opportunities, provision for SEND and disadvantage pupils, anti-bullying, rewards and sanctions, behaviour logs/analysis of exclusions, pupils taken off roll, records of bullying, including racist, disability, homophobic or transgender bullying and attendance figures.
- The school will receive a contract from the Inspector (which is between the inspector and the governing body). The chair of governors or a foundation governor should sign this and return it to the inspector.
- The Inspector will read all the material sent by the school and look at the school’s website in order to complete a Pre-Inspection Plan (PIP) which provides a clear focus for the inspection. The school will receive the SIB 24 hours before the Inspection.
During the inspection
- The inspection will take place over a whole school day (primary and VC secondary or its equivalent) and over two days for a VA secondary or its equivalent. The timetable for the day will be drawn up by the school and the inspector.
- The inspector will need to observe at least one act of Worship, and talk to the Headteacher, the Worship Co-ordinator, and a range of other involved parties, suggested by the content of the PIP. This will always involve talking to children such as the school council or another group. In a voluntary aided school or its equivalent, the inspector will need to see the RE co-ordinator. In a voluntary controlled school or its equivalent this may be necessary depending on issues raised in the PIP. The inspector will also need to discuss the school’s assessment data with a representative of the senior management team. If possible it is good to meet with the Chair of Governors or another member of the Governing Body preferably a Foundation Governor.
- In a voluntary aided school or its equivalent the inspector will also observe parts of RE lessons. In a voluntary controlled school or its equivalent this may be the case usually with a focus on RE’s contribution to spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and/or its contribution to whole school ethos. Best practice is to do these observations alongside a member of the school staff (headteacher, line-manager or RE co-ordinator – as agreed between the inspector and the school). A learning walk is also possible.
- At the close of the inspection an initial verbal feedback on the findings is given to the jeadteacher and others, as agreed with the inspector. Feedback should give a clear indication of the inspector’s judgements and provisional gradings based on the evaluation schedule. The gradings are subject to a quality assurance process, known as ‘critical reading’ and consequently may be subject to change They are therefore confidential to the school until the critical reading process is completed.
- The inspector will send the draft Report to the critical reader by email, within 5 working days.
- The critical reader will check the report for consistency with the available evidence, and to ensure its consistency with the Church of England Education Office framework and guidance for report writing.
- This will normally be a straightforward process but the critical reader may have to go back and discuss the report with the inspector if major changes are needed.
- Once the final draft has been agreed between critical reader and inspector, the inspector will forward the amended draft to the school to be checked for factual accuracy. The school will check the draft report and return it to the inspector within two working days of receipt. The inspector will make any necessary factual changes to the draft report.
- The inspector sends the final report to the critical reader who will send it to the SIAMS manager who arranges for it to be communicated to the school and published.
Example of the Notification Process
After the inspection
- The report will be made available by the school to all parents/carers and the Governing Body.
- Schools MUST ensure that the SIAMS report is published on the school website alongside the latest OfSTED report. The Report will also be published on the Diocese website.
- The SIAMS Administrator sends the SIAMS Report to the Church of England Education Office (National Society) which will then place the Report on their website.
- The SIAMS Administrator will send an Evaluation Form for the school to complete as the final part of the SIAMS inspection process. The school should return this within 5 working days.