Head of School Improvement – Paul Duckworth
Paul established our school improvement service on 1 April 2020. He joined us after a long and successful career as a primary teacher, headteacher, leadership trainer and school adviser. Paul was most recently Acting Head of Service for Education Improvement at Lancashire County Council and prior to that was the team leader for the School Advisory Service in the North of Lancashire for 10 years.

Full-time Adviser (from April 2022) – Carolyn Singleton 
Carolyn has been a part-time adviser at DBE Services since September 2020, alongside her role as headteacher at Broughton CE Primary School in Preston. At the start of the summer term 2022 Carolyn will join Paul as a full-time Primary Adviser. Carolyn has taught for 25 years with nineteen years’ experience of school leadership including three headships in two Local Authorities. She has worked in a wide variety of schools in very different contexts. These have included a large, three form entry school in Blackpool; a smaller, semi-rural school in Cumbria; a large school in Lancashire with significant levels of deprivation and a short interim headship at a special school.

Our services are open to ALL primary schools. We have a very strong link with the Diocese of Blackburn and other CE Dioceses in the North of England but we also work with faith schools in local Catholic Dioceses and community schools in ten different Local Authority areas.

The Team
All our advisers have successful primary headship experience (often in a number of different schools). Four of our advisers have experience as Senior Advisers in a Local Authority, two at Head of Service level.

We are very proud to welcome the following experienced advisers to our team, working alongside Paul and Carolyn:
– Alison Mitchell
– Celia Davies
– Chris Lawler
– Heather Wareing
– Jill Walmsley
– Jonathan Hewitt
– Julie Webster
– Sharon Bowker

DBE is committed to having serving headteachers as part of our school improvement team; helping us to keep us up to date with current school issues. This also gives our schools a choice of the experience and current role of their school adviser. Schools with a part-time adviser can always call on the knowledge of the wider team and our two full-time advisers at any time. We pride ourselves on building-up a strong relationship with all of our schools over time so that we know the school, the leadership team and the governors well; leaving us well placed to provide the most appropriate advice and support.

Our SLA offers a complete package, including support for appraisal, appointments and attendance at termly senior leader briefings (for head and deputy/senior teacher) without any additional costs. By April 2022, 110 schools had entered into a Service Level Agreement and have a named, allocated school improvement adviser from the DBE Team.

Primary School Service Level Agreement (SLA)

The essentials

  • A named school adviser
  • Five visits per year (1/2-day visits on-site)
  • On-going telephone and e-mail support whenever required
  • Support for headteacher & deputy headteacher appointments
    Each school will receive professional advice/support on the appointment of a headteacher/deputy headteacher for one recruitment round each year. If a further recruitment process is required, this may incur an additional charge.
  • Notes of visit that support school improvement – returned promptly by e-mail
  • A weekly update from the Head of School Improvement – with links to leadership information as well as some of the latest research and thinking on curriculum, teaching and learning.
  • Two free places at termly ‘senior leader briefings’ which cover current issues, sharing best practice and leadership development topics.
    Attendance at Senior Leader Briefings for non-SLA schools: £90 per delegate per term (£60 on ZOOM)
  • Support for the school’s Ofsted Inspection (before, during & after the inspection)
  • Support for the governing body in strategic leadership and school improvement
  • Free membership of DBE Networks (currently in place for new headteachers, new deputy headteachers, aspiring headteachers, coastal schools, small schools and EYFS)


The five adviser visits are flexible and could include some of the following, chosen to meet the school’s needs:

  • Challenge and support for the headteacher
  • External adviser support for headteacher appraisal
  • Supporting school self-evaluation
  • Working alongside staff to model, challenge and support self-evaluation;
    for example, by
    – taking part in learning walks, visits to lessons
    – supporting curriculum audits
    – assisting with the analysis of school data
    – supporting the writing of a summary self-evaluation document
  • Support in writing action plans and monitoring progress
  • Delivering CPD for staff (eg subject leadership training, governor awareness of the EIF)

Our aim is to serve our schools and children – and as such we always seek to agree a blend of different approaches to meet the needs of the school.

The cost of the SLA
* VAT will be added to all charges but reclaimed either by the school or the LA on the school’s behalf

£3250 for 1 April 2022 – 31 March 2023, invoiced in April 2022 for the full year

For school collaborations/federations £4450 for 1 April 2022 – 31 March 2023
The cost is split equally between the two schools where there is a shared headteacher in post – the schools are entitled to six visits across both schools

For schools that are committed to another provider until September, we are also offering an option to take out the SLA for 2 terms from September 2022 until 31 March 2023…
£2167 for 1 September 2022 – 31 March 2023, Invoiced in September 2022
£2967 for a collaboration 1 September 2022 – 31 March 2023, Invoiced in September 2022

Contact: schoolimprovement@dbeservices.co.uk for further details or to discuss the SLA

Outside the SLA, schools will  have the opportunity (subject to availability) to request:

Additional consultancy time
A full day of adviser support – £600
A half-day of adviser support – £300
A twilight session of adviser ‘consultancy’ – £200

Spotlight Profiles

Paul Duckworth is also a Spotlight practitioner (https://spotlightprofile.com) and this tool can also be used to support leadership development in school. The spotlight profile would be charged separately (currently £75 per person) but SLA time (or additional adviser time) can be used to provide feedback and coaching support. We also have other Spotlight practitioners in our ‘DBE Partnership’ (including a number of headteachers) so schools have the option of working with a coach who is not their school adviser if they wish.

Each term our Head of School Improvement (Paul Duckworth) presents a 1/2-day update for  senior leaders; aiming to inform, update and inspire  primary headteachers and deputy/assistant headteachers. These sessions are now available both on-line via ZOOM and in person at venues in different geographical areas.

To book e-mail: schoolimprovement@dbeservices.co.uk
Booking forms for all our CPD programmes can be found here

Summer Term 2022
Tuesday 14 June                   9.30am – 11.30am
Wednesday 15 June             9.30am – 11.30am
Thursday 16 June                 9.30am – 11.30am
Tuesday14 June                    1.30pm – 4.00pm – The Midland Hotel, Morecambe
Wednesday 15 June             1.30pm – 4.00pm – The Dunkenhalgh Hotel, Blackburn
Thursday 16 June                 1.30pm – 4.00pm – Jack McLaughlin Centre at Corpus Christi High School, Fulwood

ZOOM – £60 per person
In person – £90 per person
Schools with a DBE School Adviser SLA receive two free places per term as part of the SLA

In-school INSET can be delivered to suit the needs of the school…
Twilight (2 hours) – £350
Half-day (3 hours) – £450
Full day (6 hours) – £750

Cluster INSET can be organised by arrangement – for which there is a separate charging structure.

If you have any suggestions for CPD (or queries) please contact us at schoolimprovement@dbeservices.co.uk