Diocese of Carlisle

SIAMS Inspections

All Church of England schools are inspected under the Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools (SIAMS) framework, as required by Section 48 of the Education Act 2005.

The SIAMS framework was updated in 2023. The details of the framework are here.

As a Diocese, we have warmly welcomed the new framework which returns to the ‘roots’ of Church of England education, focusing on inclusivity and ensuring the flourishing of all, including the most vulnerable members of our communities.

Recent reports following SIAMS inspections of schools in the Diocese have included the following comments:

“The Christian vision is thoughtfully designed to provide especially well for pupils in this community. It drives the work of the school and means that pupils and adults are enabled to flourish.”

“The Christian vision is driven by leaders who know their school well. Consequently, deeply embedded mutual trust empowers others, enabling all to flourish.”

The current framework highlights two vitally important areas for our pupils: spirituality and justice. The former focuses on how well pupils are supported to connect with something bigger than themselves, to make sense of, appreciate and respond to the world around them and to ask and answer questions to which there is no right answer. The latter explores the extent to which pupils are encouraged to identify and respond to injustice – locally and globally. The SIAMS framework is literally supporting our schools to be transformational and make the world a better place.

The outgoing Lead Bishop for Education, the Right Reverend Paul Butler, explained: “Having a clear Christian vision for education enables the translation of a school’s original foundation and purpose into its present-day policies and practices, thereby enabling people to flourish… The 2023 SIAMS Framework … allows inspectors and school leaders, together, to gather evidence to answer the Inspection Questions, in turn enabling inspectors to reach fair and accurate judgements. In doing so, it moves the Church of England and Methodist Church’s inspection practice forward, respecting the knowledge and expertise of school leaders, allowing them to tell their stories, and holding them to account.”

The new framework seeks to understand the whole context in which the school operates: what sort of school it is in terms of structure and partnerships, how it serves the community, how curriculum, policies and practices are underpinned by a Christian vision, how children and adults are able to flourish. Central to all of this is the extent to which the school’s theologically rooted Christian vision is lived out.

Inspections will cover several areas of school life and leadership. These are expressed as inspection questions (IQs), though these are not to be thought of as a ‘checklist’ as an inspection will be more holistic than simply a ‘box-ticking’ exercise. The questions are:

IQ1 How does the school’s theologically rooted Christian vision enable pupils and adults to flourish?

IQ2 How does the curriculum reflect the school’s theologically rooted Christian vision?

IQ3 How is collective worship enabling pupils and adults to flourish spiritually?

IQ4 How does the school’s theologically rooted Christian vision create a culture in which pupils and adults are treated well?

IQ5 How does the school’s theologically rooted Christian vision create an active culture of justice and responsibility?

IQ6 Is the religious education curriculum effective (with reference to the expectations set out in the Church of England’s Statement of Entitlement for Religious Education)?

The following Inspection Question only forms part of the inspection of voluntary aided maintained schools, academies that were formerly voluntary aided schools, and academies that were formerly voluntary controlled schools in which denominational religious education is taught. Inspection of maintained voluntary controlled schools, and the vast majority of academies that were formerly voluntary controlled schools, will not address this Inspection Question.

IQ7 What is the quality of religious education in voluntary aided and former voluntary aided schools, and in former voluntary controlled schools in which denominational religious education is taught?

Further information for schools is here.

Schools who are to be inspected will be notified in the summer term before the academic year in which their inspection will take place.


Several training sessions are offered throughout the year aimed at leaders and governors who wish to learn more about SIAMS. These are listed in our Events and Training Schedule which is sent out regularly to schools and Foundation Governors. Schools which have signed up to the Enhanced Partnership Agreement can access additional advice and support for free. A Pay As You Go service is available for other schools.

Our Experience

The SIAMS inspection experience under the 2023 Framework has been overwhelmingly positive in our Diocese. Reports have included the following comments:

“The school's Christian vision enables it to create a very special environment where people treat one another exceptionally well.”

“Through the curriculum and extra-curricular offer, the school goes above and beyond to develop the whole child. Pupils are enabled to experience life in all its fullness and develop to their full potential.”

“Religious education (RE) is highly valued by pupils. Pupils are given opportunities to discuss the diversity of religions and worldviews and reflect upon their own beliefs and others.”

“Pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) and those who are

vulnerable in other ways are exceptionally well cared for and supported. As a result, children flourish here and the school has a deservedly high reputation amongst parents and the wider community.”

We run a suite of training programmes to help schools to prepare for their SIAMS. Please see our Training tab for further information. If your school would like to discuss bespoke training, help with developing or embedding your Vision or you need any support with SIAMS, please contact Charlotte Tudway.

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