Becoming a Specialist Leader of Education (SLE)

What are SLEs?

SLEs are outstanding middle and senior leaders that have the skills to support individuals or teams in similar positions in other schools. They understand what outstanding leadership practise looks like and are skilled in helping other leaders to achieve it in their own context.

The role of the SLE was created to help raise standards and improve the quality of school leadership through school-to-school support and peer-to-peer learning. The designation of SLEs recognises the importance of the role that senior and middle leaders have to play in improving outcomes for our children.

SLEs act as ‘system leaders’ and are trained to be successful through a high-level coaching or facilitation approach that draws on their own personal knowledge and expertise in that area. This may involve a variety of support approaches including diagnostic models and one-to-one or group support. Regardless of the type of support delivered, the ultimate aim of the SLE is to contribute significantly to improving outcomes for children through developing capacity of peer leaders in other schools.

The coaching approach of an SLE to their support means that any development will be collaborative which will assure long-term, sustainable improvement by helping these in-school leaders to develop their own leadership capacity.

Here are some examples of the type of work an SLE might be involved with:

Delivery of NQT training, twilight CPD, leading subject network meetings/forums, ITT mentoring, one-to-one leadership development, data analysis, assessment development, moderation.


Do you have a specialism? Are you passionate about your role in school? Have you been motivating others to develop their expertise? Are you ready to share your knowledge and capability with others?


Ofsted Focus Areas of Expertise

Effectiveness of Leadership and Management - Academies; leadership of continuing professional development; schools business management and financial management; leadership of curriculum

Outcomes for children and other learners - Art; closing the gap, drama; design and technology; early years; English; geography; history; information and communication technology; maths; modern foreign languages; music; phonics; physical education; personal; social and health education; religious education; science; special educational needs; support for the most able pupils; citizenship

Quality of teaching, learning and assessment - Initial teacher training; assessment

Personal development, behaviour and welfare - Behaviour and discipline; attendance


Whilst SLEs will be outstanding at what they do, they can come from any school, regardless of their Ofsted grading. However, the Head Teacher and the Chair of Governors must agree that the school has the capacity to release them.

SLEs must meet the strict designation criteria included on the application form.

SLEs have expertise in a specific area.

There is no pre-determined commitment for SLE work because models and types of deployment will vary, but on average it could be around 15 days a year.

The school will receive payment for the SLEs deployment.

Application Form and Eligibility Criteria

The window for application has now closed.

We will be recruiting again in Autumn 2019.

For more information visit: