Diocesan Board of Education

Our work supporting Schools, Children and Chaplaincies in universities and colleges is guided by the Diocesan Board of Education (DBE)

DBEs are constituted by a Measure of Parliament. Download the Diocesan Boards of Education Measure 2021.

DBE Scheme

Terms of Reference

DBE Governance overview

DBE Annual Report 2022-2023

The Chelmsford DBE meets four times per year and in chaired by the The Rt Revd Roger Morris, Bishop of Colchester. Its work is supported by its Executive Committee and the Schools Organisation and Resources sub-committee.

DBE Members

Diocesan Board of Eduction Chair

Rt Revd Roger Morris 

Bishop of Colchester

Rt Revd Roger Morris is the Chair of the Chelmsford Diocese Board of Education.

The son of a teacher and married to a Secondary School Headteacher, Bishop Roger is no stranger to the world of education. He served on the Diocesan Board of Education in the Diocese of Worcester and was previously Chair of Governors of a school in Gloucestershire. He is currently a Director of Tendring Learning Community Education Trust, a Member of All Saints Academy Trust (Halstead) and a Trustee of the Keys Cooperative Academy Trust. Bishop Roger is also a Patron of CYO (Colchester) who oversee the work of chaplains in schools in Colchester and run ‘Sanctum’ (a programme of interactive prayer spaces in schools). He is also a patron of Colchester and Tendring Youth Enquiry Service (offering support and counselling to young people), a Trustee of Essex Council for Voluntary Youth Services and the Chair of Trustees of the Innervation Trust (who run the iSingPop projects including the ‘Main Event’ and ‘Classroom Worship’). 

Bishops Appointments

Rob Merchant

Rob Merchant is Dean of Mission, Ministry and Education for the Diocese of Chelmsford. His role is one that links together different aspects of the life of the diocese, including learning and development programmes for ordinands, clergy and lay leaders, vocations, ministerial development reviews, the work of our education team supporting 139 church schools, the Mustard Seed team, our Strategic Development funded projects, and supporting the growth of new worshipping communities across Essex and East London.

Rob’s background is as varied as his role. He has worked as a care worker for people with learning difficulties and his ordained ministry has included being parish priest in urban and rural settings. He has worked as an academic, and more recently as Director of St Mellitus College, Chelmsford, Essex. His interests include ageing, mental health and trauma.

He is married to Tamsin, a vicar in the Diocese of London, and has two sons, aged 14 and 16. His passion in life is to see people flourish in the ministry to which they are called, in whatever walk of life that may be.

Barking area

Clergy: Vacancy


Laity: Vacancy


Bradwell area

Clergy: Revd Sue Wise

Sue was elected to the Diocesan Board of Education in February 2022, having put herself forward as a Clergy Representative for Bradwell Area because of her interest in Education and the development of children, which is something that she has done for most of her life.

She taught in Sunday School from her teenage years, was a Brownie leader (when the Promise included God) encouraging them to be involved in church life. Later she trained as a primary teacher and taught in a secular school. As a Reader she first started to take assemblies in her local schools and also became involved in Open the Book Teams. Since ordination she has continued with this, as well as assemblies in both secular and her local Church School, and helping schools with their RE curriculum. Until recently she was a governor for a primary school in her parish.

Laity: Gill Holmes

Gill serves  as a churchwarden at St Michael and All Angels Church, Westcliff, as well as chairing the development group for Children and Family Workers, She sits on a number of other church committees including premises and community and outreach. She is a retired headteacher who has worked in a number of schools in different counties, ending her career as head of a C of E primary school. Since retirement she has chaired the governing body of a group of three schools in the Vine Academy and been a SIAMS inspector in three local diocese. Whilst serving in a church school her interests and passion for church school education grew, resulting in her undertaking a research doctorate into the impact of a headteacher’s values on the development of the Christian ethos in their school. She is passionate about supporting Christian education and the work in our church schools.

Colchester area

Clergy: Revd Dr Sara Batts-Neale

Sara is the Anglican Chaplain to the University of Essex, and also licensed as Associate Priest in Wivenhoe and Greenstead. She has previously served as a governor in two schools, a rural VC primary and a London Reach2 junior school.  Throughout Sara’s varied career history, there has had a strong interest in education at all levels and a commitment to lifelong learning.  

Laity: Vacancy

Co-opted members

John Hayes


John is a former investment banker who was involved in project finance which included administrating complex syndicated loans with many different stakeholders. In retirement he wanted to use the skills developed from those activities for various third sector entities. These include being chair of a museum, Master of a Livery Company, a trustee of a local church trust and an educational one as well as being a member of the DBE and chair of its Schools Organisation and Resources Committee.

Aleishia Lewis

Aleishia is currently Acting Headteacher at St. Mary’s, Prittlewell, C of E Primary School.  She is Chair of the Diocese of Chelmsford's Global Majority Education Association and for the last year has worked for the Church of England’s Foundation for Educational Leadership (CEFEL) writing the new NPQ programmes. Aleishia has worked with schools and school leaders nationally, supporting them as they begin their journey into diversifying their curriculum and working with staff on their understanding of identity and belonging.

As part of the DBE, she has a key focus on increasing the representation of BAME staff in leadership roles, developing the curriculum so it reflects society and recognises the importance of global citizenship and ensures that pupil voice is at the heart of everything that is done.

Marlene Wylie

Marlene is a Creative Educational Consultant and Chartered College of Teaching Fellow who has worked across a wide variety of regional and national organisations. She has taught in inner and outer London multicultural primary and secondary schools for over 25 years and has delivered whole school training, from Foundation stage EYFS to Secondary level, as well as to trainee teachers on ITT programmes.She is the Visualise Project Lead for the Runnymede Trust, which aims to deliver the first major research commission into access to the visual arts for Black, Asian and minority ethnic students. She oversees the project including the overall research design and implementation as part of the wider arts and arts education space in the UK.

Operating in a strategic and co-ordinating role has resulted in the forging of professional relationships and contacts at key institutions in the field of Art, Craft and Design. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and recognised as a Consultant Member of the National Society of Education in Art and Design (NSEAD) as well as The Design & Technology Association (DATA). Serving as President for The National Society of Education in Art and Design (NSEAD) 2023-4, she continues to support the growth and objectives of these organisations through a network of meetings, events, and activities across the country alongside her commitment to the DBE.

Chris Speller

Chris is currently the Headteacher at St. Edward's C of E VA Primary School, Romford, in the London Borough of Havering.  As well as being Chair of Governors in two LA maintained schools in two differing London boroughs, Chris is a facilitator on the Church of England NPQH, helping to grow new school leaders. Chris is also a trustee of a church on the Isle of Wight and part of the leadership team of his own church community.​

Chris is passionate about seeing Church of England schools thrive and ensuring that children, staff and the communities that our schools serve fully live out the Church of England values for education, being deeply Christian and ensuring that Jesus' promise of 'life in all its fullness' are at the heart of what we do. ​