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School Leader Monthly Briefing

December 2020


God’s Presence

I am reading the children’s book ‘I am David’ with my grandchildren at the moment. In the book, David, a refugee, is trying to find his way across Europe, clutching his few belongings. In a dire moment, his compass tumbles down a cliff face and he stares after it in disbelief. As he ponders the loss, he quietly reassures himself, ‘God is better than a compass, though of course, it would be nice to have both!’.
Throughout the story we see that David feels God’s presence – yes in the beauty around him, compared to the misery of the camp where he has been a prisoner, but also hugely in  the people he meets  - their acts of kindness that help him find his way.
We are walking through a time that has brought a depth of uncertainty to everyday living that would have been hard to begin to comprehend a year ago. We so need a compass for this new terrain. For me it is a humbling experience to talk with school leaders and staff across our diocese and learn of the ways in which every day you work for school to be a place of joy, a place of calm in the storm, an oasis of care and of learning.  I wonder if you know how much you have been, and continue to be, an anchor, a light, a compass for the children and young people in your care and for the communities to which they belong?
The Bible speaks of God’s presence – how God is known, how God is seen. For us here at the Diocesan Board of Education, we see His presence in you and in your actions every single day and we are so thankful to God for you – not just for all of the hours of your work, but for the love that you place within it.
The Bible says many things about God’s presence. During Advent within the Christian family we prepare for Jesus’ arrival, God bending low from the heavens, becoming human in the vulnerable life of a baby. Throughout Jesus’ life his humanity touches the lives of those around him; it is in your humanity, in your acts of professional and personal service, that we see God’s presence.
And so in this season, as we remember that God’s presence is in a Baby’s cry (Luke 2.12) and in a Child’s enquiry (Luke 2:46) we give thanks for all that you do and for all you are for the children and young people of your school.
The presence of God is central to the Church school family; the presence of goodness, compassion and mercy. God’s love and abundance.
As we move through Advent to the special season of Christmas, and as you share God’s love with your children, young people and their families, we pray you experience the abundance of God’s love for yourself.



Sharing your Good News stories!
At the Salisbury Diocese Board of Education, we know that all schools have done (and are doing) a completely amazing job in ensuring your schools not only remain open  during this pandemic, but that you have many wonderful stories, big and small, about acts of kindness, generosity, compassionate care that your children, staff, parents, clergy and other members of the school community have contributed selflessly to, enabling lives of others to be lifted during this time. 

We would absolutely love to hear of your acts of kindness and to share these across the diocese as we seek to lift everyone’s spirits.  Please do not be bashful – we know how amazing you all are! 

We are hoping to receive lots of messages from you plus photos or images drawn by the children,  and to publish these in The Grapevine diocesan magazine and on our social media pages and website.  Please do take the time to share any little (or big!) thing you have done. 
You remain an inspiration to us all! 
We look forward to sharing your school news stories for you! 150-250 words and a royalty-free image with all necessary permissions is all that we need – please email to
SDBE Courses - are continuing to be uploaded to the website page for booking. If you type in PSA to the search bar you will see the courses and forums that are free as part of your school’s PSA Subscription.
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Keeping our children and young people safe – virtual County Lines training
Child exploitation is the criminal and sexual exploitation of children for profit or gain and is predominantly associated with the drug trade known as county lines. Criminals groom and use children to move and supply drugs, carry weapons and carry out other criminal acts such as burglary, violence and anti-social behaviour. Sexual exploitation occurs when children are coerced into performing sexual acts as a means of intimidation and control, to pay off debts and when they are forced into relationships with perpetrators. In the South West of the UK, including all areas of Somerset, Dorset and Wiltshire there is a significant rise in county lines drug crime, whereby a large amount of young people as young as 10 years old, are being criminally and sexually exploited by gangs.  Escapeline provides awareness training for professionals on child exploitation and grooming. The training enables professionals to identify signs, including early signs, of a young person who is involved in county line gangs and exploitation, recognise early intervention and indicators, and reasons why young people get involved in county line gangs. Understanding of the grooming process and the different stages of recruitment. A better awareness on how to support young people who are victims of child/sexual and criminal exploitation. Understanding of contextual safeguarding and mapping to monitor concerning friendships groups and establish victims of child exploitation. Highlighting a better understanding of the importance of multi-agency work and how linking together and sharing information can lead to better outcomes. If you are interested in our training, please contact or visit our website here.  
Children’s mental wellbeing - Kidscape Peer Mentoring Programme
This programme focuses on supporting pupils’ mental wellbeing; aiming to give a preventative and early intervention approach to supporting pupils with low level emotional difficulties, complimenting other forms of school-based support.
“Very excited to develop the programme further in our school and add additional support to pupils. I will definitely recommend the training to others. Fantastic!” – Head Teacher

Upcoming dates of our virtual delivery are: 
Thursday 10th December Primary Schools - 12.30-2.30  Peer Mentoring programmes are based on young people supporting each other; matching peer mentors with mentees in one-on-one relationships so they can provide guidance and support, serving as positive role models.
With appropriate training, guidance and supervision peer mentors are able to listen and support fellow pupils (mentees); helping them deal with the challenges they face that they may be struggling with.
 Kidscape developed their own peer mentoring programme that has successfully been running since it was introduced to secondary schools in Wiltshire in 2016.

How to apply Contact to join and for further details please visit their website.
School Leader wellbeing - Welcome to Headrest
We offer a FREE daily wellbeing telephone support service for headteachers and CEOs. As experienced ex-heads ourselves, we understand how challenging it is right now. We provide a sympathetic and confidential listening ear at the end of the phone. Find out more here.
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New RSHE resources for church schools - Goodness & Mercy by Katy Staples
Goodness & Mercy is a selection of RSHE resources written primarily for Church of England schools. All schools are welcome to use them. It is named from the last line of the well-loved 23rd Psalm:
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”
The gifts of goodness and mercy are those that we hope will follow all our pupils all the days of their lives and will bring joy, peace and comfort.
Goodness and mercy are gifts, but they need careful cultivating. These resources seek to help children and young people to understand and abound in goodness and mercy: in their relationship with themselves, with others and with intimate partners so that they may have “Life in all its fullness.” (John 10:10)
These resources are written to meet both the mandatory requirements of the 2020 Department for Education guidance for RSHE, the Church of England Education Office Charter and the Section 48 Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools expectations.  If you would like more information, please click here

If you would like to attend a free virtual course, led by Katy Staples, this will be on 20th January 2021. There are two sessions: 14:00 – 15:30 and 16:00-17:30 and you can book two places per school. For further details, please click here.
Coming up!  UNESCO – The week of Sound - 21st January – 3rd February
This might be something that you would like to explore:
Sound is important to all ages and permeates through economic, environmental, societal, medical, industrial and cultural dimensions. It contributes to our individual and collective behaviour, helping to shape the relationships we form with others.
Due to its diverse range of competences, UNESCO is the best-placed institution to address sound-related issues, namely those involving the sound environment; health; sound recording, reproduction and conservation technology; the relation between image and sound; and musical and sound expression.
For further details please click on the link here
researchED is an educator-led organisation with the goal of bridging the gap between research and practice. This accessible and punchy series, overseen by founder Tom Bennett, tackles the most important topics in education, with a range of experienced contributors exploring the latest evidence and research and how it can apply in a variety of classroom settings. Explore and buy at John Catt Bookshop.

The introduction of the new Relationship, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) 2020 guidance for September has put the holistic development of young people back at the centre of education. All schools will be required to deliver a broad, rich and appropriate RSHE curriculum to all pupils. Teaching Schools South West (TSSW) are leading the Department for Education training to support schools in the South West. You can read more here and register here.

All state secondary settings and invited stakeholders that register will receive updates and access to training and materials as they are released. This FREE offer includes:

  • A series of 6 twilight webinars from end January to mid-March on Thursdays from 4-5pm. They cover the content of the new RSHE 2020 guidance
  • Materials to support training and delivery of RSHE in your school
  • Access to shared materials to support RSHE and PSHE delivery
  • Regular PSHE Network meetings
  • 1:1 support for your school with an allocated RSHE Ready mentor where requested.
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Bishop Wordsworth Education Trust have updated and simplified the application process for schools and have increased the amount schools can apply for (For Primaries, Firsts, Middles - up to £1,000 and Secondaries up to £3,000). Schools/academies can also collaborate and apply for a group project. The new, simple to complete BWET application forms are on the DBE School Funding page of the website. The money should be used for the furthering of the teaching of RE, for developing church/school links or to support a school’s spirituality teaching.
Please note the deadline for the receipt of applications is 15th December.
Farmington Fellowship Scholarships - offer awards for teachers and headteachers to undertake a research project that will release them from teaching for the equivalent of 30 days and offer them a University tutor to support them in their studies. The closing date for applications is the 31st January 2021 and details of how to apply can be found here
No Single Story – is the theme of Bristol, Swindon and South Gloucester SACRE’s RE Conference which will be online on Thursday and Friday 28th and 29th January. Focused on supporting the teaching of worldviews and diversity in RE there are keynote speakers and primary and secondary seminars. Seminars cost £20 each or £50 for the whole conference. To read more see their Eventbrite page or contact
NATRE’s Spirited Arts - Don’t forget to check out the titles of themes for the 2021 Spirited Arts Competition when they go live in January.  In the meantime you can use the images of the winning entries from previous years as inspirations for lessons and poetry in RE.
Bullying and Belief - is an anti-bullying toolkit. There are separate ones for primary and for secondary schools. It contains five lesson plans, films and resources, that would be suitable for RE or PSHE lessons. The lessons have been planned so that they can also run as a drop-down day as a focus to events such as Interfaith Week or Anti-Bullying Week. The toolkit also contains resources for organising assemblies around this theme. The five lessons consider:
  • Why do some people bully others?
  • How should we treat one another?
  • Bullying and Belief- what would you do?
  • What are we worth?
You can read more or download them here.
Good News For Everyone (formerly Gideons UK) has updated its website. Read here how the Bible is described and contact them to arrange a visit to an assembly or RE lesson (they have PowerPoints you can use if you are not having visitors at the moment) or to ask for a donation of Bibles to your school RE Department or to be presented to leavers/joiners. They regularly give out free Pocket Bibles (New Testament, Psalms & Proverbs) to Year 7 students across the UK. Wendy Dew-Jones (School Appointments Secretary) can be contacted on
Cumbria SACRE have written a new module to answer the question, ‘What can we learn from Religious Texts?’ Called ‘Buried Treasure’ the unit is written for KS2 and KS3 and engages pupils in exploring religious texts and quotes. Through an enquiry-based approach, the concepts of Unity, Love, Truthfulness, Honesty and Justice can be explored.

Cumbria SACRE have also launched a new directory for Visits and Visitors for RE. It also includes a section on virtual visits and includes questions for characters of faith in books, guidance in dealing with parental concerns about RE visits and a Code of Conduct for visitors to schools. They have teamed up with Cumbria Development Education Centre to develop a section on their website for virtual visits to places of worship around the country and around the world.
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The Children’s Society Christingle 2020 - How will you be Christingling this year? - Christingle has always been about bringing people together and embracing hope during the festive season, and in 2020, the spreading of hope feels especially important as we Pray, Serve and Grow through The Diocese of Salisbury and beyond!
Bishop Nicholas has recorded a personal message and prayers for you to share with your school community. See more links and guidance for Christingle on our Home Faith and Worship webpage

In March, St Paul’s Cathedral had the pleasure of working with Diocesan Boards for schools and individual head teachers in creating a ‘hymn flashmob’, designed to share videos of children singing their favourite hymns and songs as gifts for those who were anxious lonely or unwell. Over 70 schools and Cathedrals across the UK took part, and this initiative reached over 200,000 people across the world.
They are inviting schools once again to take part in their St Paul’s Cathedral Christmas Hymnflashmob, to share comfort and joy with people in their communities – and have written to ask us to share the invitation to schools to take part. See here for the full details.  
This is part of the Church of England’s ‘Comfort & Joy’ campaign, and St Paul’s would like to flood the digital sphere with videos of children singing Christmas carols in the final full week of term, beginning Monday 14th December.

Looking for an advent calendar or advent activities?

  • As part of the C of E’s Comfort and Joy campaign, an Advent Calendar has been created which focuses on the theme of blessing and concern.  It can be downloaded here.
  • The Bath and Wells Diocesan ‘Go Team’ have produced a newsletter which focuses upon Christmas and Advent. The Environment Team has created a Big Green Advent Activity Calendar. To download a copy click here .
  • You can download 12 Activities for Advent and Christmas here and a Christmas Bible Chat mat here.

Roots’ Resources for Advent and Christmas can be downloaded from this website.
They include ‘Building God's family tree’ - A Jesse tree to decorate through Advent. Or
Now - and then’Reflecting on 2020 through the Christmas Story.

Southwest Carols - As well as producing their live-streamed service over the weekend of 5th and 6th of December, Southwest Carols has produced a pdf of activities for families which schools and churches may find useful. 

Becky George is a Makaton Tutor.  She has some wonderful YouTube recordings of Carols and also a Nativity, which are all Makaton signed.  Please click here.
Becky runs regular training both online and in-house.  She runs faith-based Makaton sessions for churches and groups.  You can find out more at 

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Holy Land Gifts provide small hand-held crosses that some schools gift to their leavers as a reminder of collective worship and prayer. Visit their website.
Watch a short video of the Artesan Workshop and shop.
A Glimpse of God's Kingdom are resources that include a script and a PowerPoint on themes taken from The Beatitudes - part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount Each of the beatitudes has been linked to a Christian value including hope, compassion and humility. Each resource encourages engagement and reflection. They also include an example of a prayer station suitable for use with all ages. There is also an advent calendar, centred on stories of Jesus’ life, which might be useful for use in ‘bubble worship’.
A Fresh Approach to Collective Worship see a page of resources including an academic year assembly calendar and ideas for developing bubble and classroom worship. 
Faith at Home - New fortnightly resources are being created this term on the theme of ‘getting back on track’. Explore resources and videos here.
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Tearfund is committed to following Jesus wherever the need is greatest. Today they are present in over 50 countries – working in close partnership with local churches and Christian organisations.
Tearfund Youth – believe in having fun, in joining an adventure and in an honest pursuit of justice for everyone.  If you would like to set up a youth group at school or would like to sign post your young people to Tearfund’s work, please contact: TEARFUND 020 3906 3906 or look for contact details on the TEARFUND website.  

Bring Africa to life in your school! Your support will help families grow enough food, earn a living and go after their dreams.   
To find out how else your school can get involved please contact  and they will be in touch soon!

Design Ventura - The Design Museum is challenging students in Years 9-11 to create a product that improves everyday life by addressing a social, educational or environmental issue and retails for @£10. Ten teams will be invited to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges and the winning team design will be developed and sold in the Design Museum Shop. The money raised will go to a charity of the school’s choosing. Deadline for entries is 24th February 2021. Design Ventura are also offering free school workshops. Find out more at Home - Design Ventura (

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Please be aware of a fantastic opportunity to work with the Jurassic Maths Hub. They are currently offering FREE places on their Developing Core Maths Pedagogy Work Group. Due to the current situation a lot of work group meetings will take place online therefore elevating any geographical constraints that may have previously prevented teachers from participating. 

If you would like to know more please read the flyer below or contact the Work Group Lead  

To apply please complete the online form.
Find out more by downloading the programme brochure. Apply by 13th December 2020.
Greenshaw Research School are promoting a free CPD offer titled 'Effective learning in the classroom through the lens of disadvantaged pupils'. 
If you would like to book a place on one of the 2 sessions available in December, please click here.

Friday 22nd January: 

South West English Hubs Reading 


More details to follow but please put this date in your diary to join the online reading conference. Speakers include Alex Quigley, Professor Teresa Cremin and Pie Corbett.  

You can register your interest  HERE .  
Ramsbury English Hub The English Hub showcases are starting again, virtually, from January 2021. Following attendance at a showcase some schools will be invited to participate in a school-based audit of their early language and reading provision, led by one of the hub specialist teachers and funding is available for some schools to purchase resources and training.
The virtual showcases this academic year are:
 Tues 26th Jan; Tues 2nd Feb and Tues 9th Feb.
 If anyone would like further details, please direct them to

Early intervention in financial education is key to developing positive behaviours and attitudes in relation to money. In an increasingly complex financial world, it is more important than ever to develop the financial capability of children from a young age, and to equip teachers and parents with the confidence and knowledge to engage children in learning about money.
Lifesavers’ values-based approach to financial education explores what it means to be wise, generous, just and thankful with our money, recognising that attitudes are as important as knowledge and skills in shaping financial behaviour.
LifeSavers is a unique programme for primary schools offering a whole school approach that provides:

  • Resources and training for teachers to embed financial education into the school curriculum
  • Support for school savings clubs to give children a practical experience of handling money
  • A whole community approach that involves parents, credit unions and others in helping children learn about money

Combining these elements enables meaningful classroom learning to be put into practice through participation in a savings club, with the active support of parents and other community organisations.
LifeSavers has had some new updates to continue to share their excellent Financial education resources throughout the Pandemic. They are set up ready to deliver to your school remotely. Either through school meetings over time (disaggregated etc) or delivered to one or two colleagues who can then pass on the resources with confidence. Contact them to discuss a plan that works for your setting.
For further details please do contact:
Danielle Hunt -Lifesavers Area Co-ordinator   

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The Church of England Education Office - Spiritual Development: Interpretations for Spiritual Development in the Classroom
 Many of you may already have a copy of this document which was released in 2019.  If you have not, however, it might be worth you downloading a copy for you to reflect and consider.  Please click here ….
Reading on Spiritual Leadership  For those of you interested in furthering your understanding of Spiritual Leadership this is an easily accessible read.  It will help you to understand God’s design for you as a spiritual leader. 
Spiritual Leadership by Henry and Richard Blackaby
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A Prayer for Christmas
May God, who has called us out of darkness
into his marvellous light,
bless us and fill us with peace.


Thank you, once more, for all you are doing in your school, your academy, your community and in your wider educational roles to support the flourishing and transformation of all of your children and young people.
You are incredible people - thank you for being you!   

With very Best Wishes from all of us at the SDBE
Debbie, Emma and Nicola
Debbie Heritage
School Improvement Advisor & Strategic Lead for SIAMS
Tel Direct Mobile: 07469 859994
Emma Waters
Education Services Assistant
Nicola Coupe
School Improvement Adviser
Tel Direct Mobile: 07469 857 670
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Salisbury Diocesan Board of Education (SDBE) · SDBE · The Avenue, Wilton · Salisbury, Wiltshire SP2 0FG · United Kingdom

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