Diocesan Boards of Education Measure approved by General Synod


New legislation governing Diocesan Boards of Education (DBEs), which oversee and support Church of England schools, has received final approval from General Synod.
Three school children reading together on sofa Diocese of Guildford

The new DBE Measure, taking the place of the current 1991 Measure (last updated in 2006), reflects the changes in the education system and legislation over the last decade. 

The new legislation is less prescriptive about the membership of DBEs and makes it much easier for the composition of the membership to be reviewed and changed when needed.

The Measure also captures some of the developments in collaboration and cross working between Dioceses such as shared Diocesan Boards of Education and other joint endeavours.

The Measure also simplifies the process of updating legislation in response to future developments, a move informed by General Synod’s wish for modernisation and simplification of structures and processes.

Speaking ahead of the vote, the Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, the Church of England’s lead bishop for education said:

“The DBE Measure is the key piece of legislation establishing how the structures of the Church partner with the state in the delivery of education in England.

“It is an opportunity to affirm and consolidate the way in which Diocesan Boards of Education operate as a key part of their Dioceses; it strengthens the foundation of the relationship between the Diocese and both the governing boards of our schools (academies as well as voluntary schools) and the historic trustees of those schools, and it enables us to modernise our structures more flexibly as we keep pace with future developments in the world of education and education governance.

“The adoption of the Measure ensures that DBEs and church schools, whether voluntary or academies, can see more clearly the statutory underpinning of the relationship; this frees both sides to work together more productively.”

Synod voted overwhelmingly in favour of the motion, with votes recorded as follows:

  • Bishops:   For: 29      Against: 0      Recorded Abstentions: 0
  • Clergy:     For: 114     Against: 12    Recorded Abstentions: 8
  • Laity:        For: 122     Against: 22    Recorded Abstentions: 4

The measure now goes forward for Royal Assent.

More information:

Church of England schools and academies:

  • Each diocese runs a Diocesan Board of Education supporting Church schools, which represents an annual investment of over £15 million.
  • Approximately 1 million children attend Church of England schools.
  • About 15 million people alive today went to a Church of England school.
  • quarter of primary schools and over 200 secondary schools are Church of England.
  • With 250 sponsored and over 650 converter academies, the Church is the biggest sponsor of academies in England.
  • Over 500 independent schools declare themselves to be Church of England in ethos.
  • Across the country, Church of England clergy dedicate a million hours every year to working with children and young people in schools, often providing holiday and after-school activities.
  • There are 22,500 Foundation Governors in Church schools recruited, trained and supported by dioceses.