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 previously 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 – 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 joined 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 nine 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 have the following experienced advisers in our team, working alongside Paul and Carolyn:
– Alison Mitchell
– Chris Lawler
– Heather Wareing
– Jill Walmsley
– Jonathan Hewitt
– Julie Webster
– Nick Ward (serving headteacher)
– Sharon Bowker (serving headteacher)

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 September 2022, 120 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

Some headteacher comments from our recent survey of schools… 

  • ‘DBE provides an excellent service. The knowledge and expertise of the advisers is second to none.
    The mix of professional challenge and support is excellent. It is invaluable through these challenging times.’
  • ‘The advice and training given is always professional and to a very high standard. The advisers are very knowledgeable and, as an academy, we always feel extremely well supported enabling us to lead on school improvement and all the challenges we may face.’
  • ‘DBE offer the most personalised advice and support of any advisory service that I have ever worked with. The comprehensive weekly updates ensure that I am aware of all the latest guidance/best practice and any feedback following visits/discussions is built on evidence based research. Since working with DBE, school self evaluation has improved greatly and our school is in a much stronger position as a result.’
  • ‘The guidance, support and advice provided is invaluable. The extensive range of expertise and skill within DBE and the named advisor who has a thorough knowledge of the school and community has supported school leaders and Governors to drive forward school. I am extremely grateful for the encouragement and support offered over the last 2 years.’

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.

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

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.

Autumn Term 2022
Tuesday 8 November                   9.30am – 11.30am
Wednesday 9 November             9.30am – 11.30am
Thursday 10 November                9.30am – 11.30am
Tuesday 8 November                   1.30pm – 4.00pm – The Midland Hotel, Morecambe
Wednesday 9 November             1.30pm – 4.00pm – Jack McLaughlin Centre at Corpus Christi High School, Fulwood
Thursday 10 November                1.30pm – 4.00pm – The Diocese of Blackburn Offices off Junction 5 of the M65

Spring Term 2023
Tuesday 28 February                   9.30am – 11.30am
Wednesday 1 March                    9.30am – 11.30am
Thursday 2 March                         9.30am – 11.30am
Tuesday 28 February                   1.30pm – 4.00pm – Jack McLaughlin Centre at Corpus Christi High School, Fulwood
Wednesday 1 March                    1.30pm – 4.00pm – The Diocese of Blackburn Offices off Junction 5 of the M65
Thursday 2 March                        1.30pm – 4.00pm – The Midland Hotel, Morecambe

Summer Term 2023
Tuesday 13 June                           9.30am – 11.30am
Wednesday 14 June                    9.30am – 11.30am
Thursday 15 June                         9.30am – 11.30am
Tuesday 13 June                           1.30pm – 4.00pm – The Diocese of Blackburn Offices off Junction 5 of the M65
Wednesday 14 June                     1.30pm – 4.00pm – Jack McLaughlin Centre at Corpus Christi High School, Fulwood
Thursday 15 June                          1.30pm – 4.00pm – The Midland Hotel, Morecambe

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

Wednesday 28 September 2022 (9.30am – 3.30pm)
Barton Manor Hotel (formerly Barton Grange Hotel), Broughton, Preston

Course Presenters:
Paul Duckworth (Adviser/Head of School Improvement) &
Sharon Bowker (Adviser/Headteacher – Lytham Hall Park Primary)
Headteacher contributor – Jill Alexander-Steele (Headteacher – The Roebuck School, Preston)

A full day of face-to-face training to support senior leaders in:
– understanding the Ofsted Inspection Framework (EIF)
– preparing the school for inspection
by providing
– practical ideas, resources and templates
– input from serving headteachers who have recently led their school through inspection

Cost: £175 per delegate

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