Apply to be an SLE

Key Dates

21st January 2019 Applications open

1st February Applications close - Deadline for applications is 3pm. Please be aware that late applications will not be considered

W/b 4th Feb 2019 Applications reviewed & Interview details sent to candidates

W/b 11th Feb 2019 Interviews and assessments

W/b 25th Feb 2019 SLE applicants will receive a letter confirming the outcome of the interview process

What an SLEs does?

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

If selected, you’ll be expected to provide evidence that your work has had a positive impact on outcomes for children and young people by developing leadership capacity in other schools.

Key Points

  1. Whilst SLEs will be outstanding at what they do, they can come from any school, regardless of the school’s Ofsted grade.
  2. SLEs need to meet strict designation criteria.
  3. SLEs have expertise in a specific area, for example a subject area, early years, behaviour or school business management.
  4. SLEs are designated by the Academies Enterprise Trust Teaching School Alliance, which will also broker your deployment into other schools.
  5. The SLE role has a number of benefits, including:
  • offering credible peer support, rooted in current practice and drawing on real experience;
  • the sharing and development of outstanding, innovative practice;
  • a collaborative, coaching approach which helps develop other leaders to ensure long-term, sustainable improvement;
  • a fresh perspective on specific challenges or issues, as well as specialist knowledge and expertise;
  • the opportunity for leaders to learn about different school contexts and systems;
  • contributing to continued professional development (CPD), enhancing leaders’ knowledge, skills and abilities in a variety of ways.

Designation Criteria:

To become a specialist leader of education (SLE), you will need to hold a middle or senior leadership role in a school and have a specialism that is included in our list of areas of expertise. SLEs will need to meet strict designation criteria.

SLE designation is open to qualified teachers from nursery schools, primary, middle, secondary, all-through and special schools, pupil referral units and short-stay schools, faith schools, independent schools, academies, chains and free schools or sixth form colleges.


SLEs will:

  • be outstanding middle or senior leaders with a first class knowledge in a particular field of expertise
  • have a minimum of two years' experience in a leadership role within a school or academy

Track record

SLEs will have:

  • a successful track record, supported by substantial impact evidence, of working effectively within their own school and/or across a group of schools, or working with a range of leaders within a single school
  • evidence of successfully using coaching and/or facilitation skills to bring about sustainable improvement

Capacity and commitment

SLEs will:

  • have a commitment to outreach work and the capacity to undertake such work
  • be supported in their application by their head teacher and chair of governors, and be able to be released from their school for a mutually agreed allocation of time


SLEs will have:

  • excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • the ability to utilise high levels of emotional intelligence to work sensitively and collaboratively with peer colleagues
  • an understanding of what constitutes 'outstanding' in their field of expertise and the ability and confidence to articulate this
  • an appreciation of how their specialism and skills can contribute to the wider school improvement agenda
  • an analytical approach in identifying the needs and ability to prioritise accordingly, including the ability to set and establish new and innovative working practices
  • the ability to grow leadership capacity in others

Areas of Expertise

Our priority areas for SLEs for 2018-19 are listed below:

Leadership and management

Assessment & data (Progresso) and leadership of curriculum

Pupil achievement

Computer science, early years; English; geography; history; maths; modern foreign languages; phonics and science

Please note we are particularly interested in SLEs who can:

  • facilitate strategies for supporting EAL at whole academy level
  • support the implementation of the new Computer Science curriculum
  • support teachers in the classroom with Primary Mathematics curriculum
  • Early Years and Phonics
  • support both Primary and Secondary Science
  • work with groups of teachers to improve their quality of teaching.

When should I apply to become an SLE?

Dates for the next round for Specialist Leaders of Education are detailed below

Our Teaching School Alliance, are always keen to hear from people who are would like to make a difference by contributing to system leadership throughout the organisation and would like to become an SLE in the future.

If you understand what outstanding leadership practice in your area of expertise looks like and are skilled in helping other leaders to achieve it in their own context, we would be keen to hear from you

Before Applying

  • Read the SLE application guidance.
  • Speak to your Principal/Head teacher to check they will support your application and will release you to support other academies.
  • Select your specialism matches one of the the Academies Enterprise Trust Teaching School Alliance priorities (See application form).
  • Ensure that you meet the SLE eligibility criteria.
  • Once recommended by your Principal/Headteacher, you will be forwarded the application form


All applicants must have the support and agreement of their Principal/Head teacher who will confirm that the school has the capacity to release them for SLE deployments. The Principal/Head Teacher will need to complete a reference in the application form. They will be asked to provide a supporting statement evidencing how the applicant meets the eligibility criteria and to confirm that they have supported another middle or senior leader from another academy or school.

Where it is not possible to evidence external outreach work the Principal/Head teacher can report on how the applicant has supported a middle or senior leader from within their own school.

For further information, please read Application Guidance for Referees