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 around April of the preceding academic year. Schools are selected for inspection on the basis of scheduling as outlined on the Church school inspection scheduling - see Section 4 of the Church of England SIAMS handbook. Around May/June the pending inspections are confirmed by the Church of England Education Office/and the Department of Education (DfE). 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 shortly before the school is notified.

The school receives a phone call from the SIAMS Manager or a member of the Chelmsford diocesan team usually 5 working days before the inspection is scheduled. This phone call informs the school of the forthcoming inspection and of the name of the inspector. If the executive headteacher/headteacher is not available the person who is in charge of the school on that day will be contacted so that notification is not delayed. A follow-up email will be sent confirming details. 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 contact the school shortly after notification (the same or next day). There will be an initial telephone conversation to discuss with the headteacher, or if they are not available the person in charge of the school, key aspect of the inspection process and request any documentation. The documentation should be provided for the inspection within 24 hours of this discussion.

The Church of England Education Office (National Society) have produced a schedule for the inspection of church schools and provided guidance on self-evaluation which suggests a two page summary document with an additional page for making the case for excellence if required. The Church of England handbook says in section 8:

Effective leadership will mean that schools have their own process in place for recording church school self-evaluation.  These will have been developed for the benefit of the school not for the inspection.  Strong leaders will want to share this with inspectors.  Effective self-evaluation will be focused on impact and will not be overly descriptive.  A short summary of the school's self-evaluation of approximately two pages is encouraged for SIAMS inspection purposes.  Schools should recognise that there is no expectation that an inspector will analyse an excessively lengthy SEF in preparing a pre inspection plan (PIP).  Self-evaluation may be submitted by the school in any format the school choses.

Pamela Draycott has produced a possible 2 page summary document and a 1 page excellence document which a school may wish to use/adapt as suits their circumstances. Thorough ongoing self-evaluation provides a useful document for school's development as a church school.  The summary SEF and making the case for excellence documents provided here give a concise focus of the key points of development/priority only.

As a guidance on self-evaluation and SIAMS has only been available since November 2019 many schools who are expecting SIAMS inspection within our Diocese have completed the previous SIAMS self-evaluation document which is more detailed. It is perfectly acceptable to continue to use this, since a school can present the information to the inspector in any form required.  However, please make it as short as possible and evaluative rather than descriptive.  Remember it is not a detailed development or action plan but a document which says 'where we are' and what the impact of your actions regarding church school distinctiveness is.

Adjustment or Deferral of a SIAMS inspection

Adjustment = change the date of an inspection within the same school term.

Defer = alter the date of an inspection to the next school term.

There is strict guidance as to when and if it is possible to adjust or 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 an adjustment or 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, Graham Lancaster.

Example of the Notification Process

TOP TIPs - for the new SIAM schedule (September 2018)

Top Ten Tips provides ten points to note/things to do based on the new SIAMS schedule and using the schedule as a tool for school improvement. Speak with your Diocesan Link Adviser who will be happy to support you.

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Click here for useful information (thanks to the Diocese of York)