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Specialist Leaders of Education

What is a Specialist Leader of Education (SLE)?

Specialist leaders of education (SLEs) are outstanding middle and senior leaders who have the skills and desire to support individuals or teams in similar positions in other schools. They recognise outstanding leadership practice in their area of expertise and are accomplished in developing other leaders to head their own teams and improve practice in their schools. Specialist Leaders in Education could be deployed if a school wished to improve the leadership in a specific subject or specialist area. They are able to provide one-to-one or group support. 

SLEs focus on developing leadership capacity. While other roles focus specifically on developing classroom expertise, this role is about developing the capacity and capability of other leaders so that they have the skills to lead their own teams and improve practice in their own schools.

This may be done through one-to-one or group support and could involve a variety of activities, such as:

  • data analysis
  • coaching
  • facilitating and training
  • joint action planning

Most engagements require a collaborative approach and seeking solutions together to help develop sustainable change so a coaching approach is most effective.

Who can apply

To become a SLE, you need to have been in a leadership role other than headteacher for at least 2 years. Your headteacher will be asked to confirm that you’re in an appropriate role. Higher level teaching assistants are not eligible to apply.  You can be from any type or phase of school.

You do not need to be in an outstanding school or a school that is part of a teaching school alliance, but your school will need to have the capacity to release you to work in other schools.

You must have at least 1 specialism from our areas of expertise, which are based on the areas of focus in the Ofsted Common Inspection Framework (September 2018):

SLE Specialisms Sept 2018

Time commitment

The types of placements will vary. For example, one might be a 2-day diagnostic exercise, while another might require a 3 month, full time support role. Time may be taken as a block of consecutive days or spread over a longer period.

There’s no minimum or maximum time commitment. You and your school will need to think carefully about capacity and negotiate your availability together.

Being an SLE benefits all

Delivering support as an SLE has benefits for the SLE’s own school as well as the school receiving support from the SLE. The extract below from the National College for Teaching and Leadership highlights some of those benefits:

How to apply

If you are interested in applying to becoming and SLE or wishing to have some more information then please contact the Orwell TSA either by emailing or by using the Contact Us link below

Engaging an SLE to support your school

The website section on School to School support describes the process of engaging people to help your school and has links to start the engagement.  Follow the link below to access that information or if you wish to discuss your requirements then please get in touch either by emailing or by using the Contact Us link below.