About Us

We work in collaboration with local schools and partners, offering a wide range of training and professional development.

Using our considerable experience, we both support and challenge schools and other settings to help them achieve the best possible outcomes for the children and young people.

In addition to our own expertise, our knowledge and extensive network means we are always know how to access the right support to meet your requirements – whatever that might be.

Areas of Expertise

Assessment Data & Moderation

Our pioneering team with established packages to support schools with both statutory and curriculum assessment and develop appropriate and effective approaches to data.

Head teachers have a responsibility to comply with the moderation and monitoring processes conducted by School Improvement Service on behalf of Halton Local Authority, and the data validation processes conducted by the LA Education Data Analyst.

Local authorities must ensure that their schools administer the statutory assessment and reporting arrangements appropriately and ensure that their schools understand and follow the statutory requirements.

Schools are supported throughout the year by training workshops for year groups as well as Assessment mangers briefings.

We will conduct monitoring visits throughout the year for various elements of the assessment process.

They also have a team of experienced teachers from Year 2 & 6 who conduct the yearly centralised moderation process.

For further information please contact:



Early Careers Teachers (ECTs)

Halton School Improvement Service continues to act as the Appropriate Body for schools within Halton with ECTs, registered prior to 1st September 2023, for 2023 – 2024.  All schools and settings with ECTs are charged a very competitive rate of £80 per ECT per term (plus 20% VAT for academies). 

Our team is an experienced Appropriate Body Provider to Early Years, Primary, Secondary phases, along with mainstream, Special and AP providers.

The Appropriate Body service we provide covers:

  • All administration of the Induction process, including receipt, checking and reading of assessment forms, maintenance of the Early Career Teachers (ECTs) data base, liaison with the Teaching Regulation Agency, making statutory returns to them via the online database and monitoring of ECT progress through their induction.
  • Provide handbooks and guidance, including mentor networking to support the induction process based on the ECF
  • Quality Assurance of the induction process in schools, including pre-induction fidelity checks for Core Induction Programme and School – based Programme options.
  • Provision of advice and support to Head Teachers and Induction Tutors and Mentors and about the induction process.
  • Provision of annual training programme for ECTs including welcome and celebration events and training sessions.
  • Initial intervention from the LA Induction Co-ordinator where an ECTs progress is less than satisfactory.
  • Intervention from the LA Induction Co-ordinator in the event of dispute between an ECT and school or where there are concerns over the quality of the two year induction process in school based on the ECF.
  • Reach agreement with an independent school, further education (FE) college or academy to act as the AB; register the ECT for induction and check with the school that they have qualified teacher status (QTS) and completed any skills tests; provide the ECT with a named contact within the AB.
  • Maintain records and assessment reports for each ECT undertaking induction and retain these for a period of six years.
  • Monitor the number of absences the ECT has and determine if they need a pre-completion extension, notifying the ECT and Teaching Regulation Agency accordingly.
  • Approve any cases for a reduced induction period and record any decisions on the relevant assessment form.
  • Notify the Teaching Regulation Agency within three days of the decision to fail or extend the ECT’s induction period.
  • Provide the Teaching Regulation Agency with documents or evidence as required in the case of an ECT appealing against a decision that they have failed the induction period.

The Halton Borough Council Named Person, Mark Higginbottom has held AB roles and responsibilities since 2007.

As a member of the well-established Education Team in Halton, as a Schools and Settings Improvement Officer, he ensures delivery of swift, effective support, advice and guidance from himself, and the expertise of other officers in the team to support schools and ECTs as required.

Halton Borough Council’s AB team maintains strong links with all schools in Halton and has works closely with Headteachers, senior leaders, tutors, mentors and NQTs/ECTs to ensure full support throughout the induction process.

The Halton Borough Council AB continues to work in partnership with professionals who have extensive experience of teaching, learning and leadership within a context of high quality relationships with all local schools and, from September 2021 the Generate Teaching Hub.

The AB Team and Education Team has extensive senior leadership expertise in both primary and secondary sectors and dedicated administrative support is provided from within a highly experienced team.

The AB function is offered at a highly competitive rate and feedback is consistently positive and supportive of the service from Headteachers, tutors, mentors and NQTs/ECTs.

For further information please contact:


Governor Service

We can offer a Service Level Agreement for clerking delivered via Entrust Governor services.

Advice, guidance and support is delivered by an experienced and highly knowledgeable team, ensuring governors are effective in their role and fulfil their statutory responsibilities.

Clerks and governance professionals | Entrust (www.entrust-ed.co.uk)

Governor Training

We provide a wide range of training based on the current needs of schools. This offer includes termly ‘Governor Directorate Briefings’, covering up to date topical matters as well as explaining the local and national current pictures of education.

Governor Vacancies

Wewith any current vacancies you may have on your governing body. Halton also have a statutory obligation for their schools to have an LA Governor on school governing bodies. If you do don’t have an LA Governor please contact mike.stapleton-chambers@halton.gov.uk

Governor Hub

Governor Hub is a support website for schools to access: GovernorHub helps your board to work together better, keeps members connected, and provides a ready-made body of evidence when you need it most. It is now used by many schools across the country – there is a cost.

For further information please contact:



Our dedicated team is highly regarded, providing timely and effective guidance around critical incidents, alongside ongoing support, enabling you to meet your statutory responsibilities in safeguarding children.

For further information please contact:


Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE)

The role of a SACRE is to support the religious education curriculum and collective worship within schools. Local authorities have a duty to enable SACREs to fulfil their statutory responsibilities in these areas. They should assure themselves that the SACRE is functioning well and holding regular meetings. It may also be appropriate for the local authority to support the SACRE’s work to provide teacher training in RE and collective worship training.

As part of their responsibilities, SACREs must provide an agreed syllabus to support the religious education curriculum in schools, which must be reviewed every five years.

The Halton LA Officer to Halton SACRE is Mark Higginbottom mark.higginbottom@halton.gov.uk

The Clerk to Halton SACRE is Elizabeth Chan Elizabeth.chan@halton.gov.uk

The duty to teach Religious Education to all pupils, in all years, in all schools

Halton SACRE have received clarification from the Department for Education with regard to the requirement to teach RE in maintained schools and academies. We have also read the new Ofsted Inspection Handbook, and wish to offer this helpful guidance to schools on the expectation to provide high quality RE to all pupils in all years in all schools

The requirement on maintained schools within, including community schools without a religious designation and voluntary controlled schools, is to follow the Halton Agreed Syllabus at all key stages (for the purpose of which the Halton SACRE has adopted the Lancashire Agreed Syllabus).

Under the terms of their Funding Agreement with the Secretary of State, all academies (including free schools) must provide RE for all their registered pupils from age 5 to 18, except for those whose parents exercise the right of withdrawal.

Generally speaking, academies with a religious designation (except ex-voluntary controlled schools) must teach within the tenets of the faith specified in their designation. They may, in addition, provide RE that is in line with a locally agreed syllabus and teach about other faiths if they choose.

Academies with no religious designation must teach RE that ‘reflects that the religious traditions in Great Britain are, in the main, Christian whilst taking account of the teaching and practices of the other principal religions represented in Great Britain’. Academies are free to follow a locally agreed syllabus if they choose to.

The DfE would expect that all schools provide pupils with a curriculum that is high quality and promotes progression through the key stages, including in RE. The non- statutory guidance for RE (2010) also states that head teachers should ensure that ‘the subject is well led and effectively managed, and that standards and achievement in RE, and the quality of the provision, are subject to regular and effective self-evaluation.’

Agreed syllabuses and requiring schools to teach an accredited qualification

The Lancashire Agreed Syllabus (adopted by Halton SACRE) Key Stage Four requirements are that;

RE must be taught to all students on roll of a school where this syllabus applies, across the 14 – 19 years.

Pupils following an accredited course (such as GCSE Religious Studies) based on the study of Christianity and one other major world religion will have deemed to have met the requirements of the agreed syllabus.

The law does require relevant schools to follow the agreed syllabus. So, if such a school has pupils at Key stage 4 not following an accredited course, they may be in breach of that statutory duty (ie. to follow the agreed syllabus).

It is also the case that, if a school teaches a RS qualification at key stage 4, and enters its pupils for this at the end of Year 10, it should still be teaching RE in Year 11. Otherwise, it does not meet the duty to provide RE as part of its curriculum to ‘all registered pupils at the school’. 1

The Ofsted School Inspection Handbook –September 2022 is quite clear about the expectations with regard to RE.

Paragraphs 125 – 130 states:

  1. The Secretary of State designates certain schools as having a religious character. In a faith school, pupils are educated in the context of the principle of a religion. It is normal for there to be a formal link with a religious organisation. In schools without a religious character, we inspect religious education (RE) and collective worship as part of our graded inspections. This is different in schools with a religious character. In most of these schools, denominational education and collective worship are inspected by a body appointed by the maintained school’s governing body under section 48 of the Education Act 2005 or as provided in the academy’s funding agreement. In a voluntary controlled school designated as having a religious character, we inspect RE, but not collective worship.
  2. Inspectors may gather evidence from anywhere relevant (including RE lessons and assemblies) to evaluate pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural education, personal development and/or behaviour and attitudes.
  3. The fact that the school has been designated as having a religious character must be referenced in the ‘information about this school’ section of the inspection report.
  4. Section 48 inspections (or the equivalent inspection of an academy) are usually carried out every 3 to 5 years (and usually within 2 to 3 years of a new voluntary-aided school or academy or free school opening). Section 48 inspections were suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic and restarted in September 2021. The first inspection will be within 8 years of the last, rather than the usual 3 to 5 years. The lead inspector on a graded inspection will check the section 48 arrangements. This includes when the next inspection is due and when the last inspection was. They will write about this in the inspection report. They will ensure that the required consultation has taken place with the prescribed faith body, when a school has a prescribed faith body and decides not to use that body’s inspection service but to appoint its own inspector.

Parental right to withdrawal from RE and/or Collective Worship.

The embedded document includes relevant guidance and documentation to manage the process of withdrawal.

If a request for withdrawal is made and followed through, or if parents and carers decide to remove their request the withdrawal form must be fully completed and returned to the Clerk to Halton SACRE Elizabeth.chan@halton.gov.uk

For further information please contact:


School Improvement Halton: SEND and Inclusive Learning

The SEND Inclusive Learning Team bring together a wealth of experience across all phases of education from Early Years to Secondary and from mainstream and special school settings.

The team keep the SEND code of practice 0 to 25years (2015) at the heart of everything they do, this includes reference to law and legislative requirements.

The offer from the team is wide and includes aspects such as training, advice, guidance and access to model policies, reference documents and relevant updates. Support can be practical and bespoke.

The purpose is to ensure that every setting meets their statutory responsibilities in respect of Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND and to support the continued development of your inclusive practices. The overall aim of the team is to support your setting to ensure a positive impact on outcomes for all children.

The team also deliver preparation training for HLTA Status, post graduate programmes alongside Liverpool John Moores University and Liverpool Hope University and are franchised trainers for Lancashire’s PIVATS 5. They have developed a partnership with Nasen and regularly deliver Masterclass webinars to a national audience, funded by the DfE. The team lead on a number of initiatives linked to the Education Priority Plan and from summer 2022 will be licenced to delivery of MPTA training.

Halton School Improvement team can also offer a Peer to Peer SEND Review Offer. 

For further information please contact: