Find out how to apply to become a specialist leader of education (SLE), what's involved, and how to work with existing teaching schools.
If you are an experienced middle or senior leader who is interested in supporting leaders in other schools, you may wish to apply to be a specialist leader of education (SLE).
There are currently just over 6,000 designated SLEs.
Teaching schools are responsible for the selection and placement of SLEs. This is one part of the government’s plan to give schools a central role in developing a self-improving and sustainable school-led system.
The application round to become an SLE is now open.
To apply, you should:
- contact your preferred teaching school directly to check whether they are recruiting SLEs – contact details can be found using the school to school support directory
- complete an application form provided by your chosen teaching school
- get a supporting reference from your headteacher
Your local teaching and leadership adviser may be able to advise which teaching schools are recruiting in your locality.
Please see the application form for reference only.and the standard version of the
Who can apply
To become an SLE, you need to have been in a leadership role below the headteacher for at least 2 years. Your headteacher will be asked to confirm that you are in an appropriate role. Higher level teaching assistants are not eligible to apply.
You can be from any type or phase of school.
You don’t 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 4 areas of focus for Ofsted.
|Ofsted focus||Areas of expertise|
|Leadership and management||Academies and academy transition; assessment; leadership of continuing professional development; school business management and financial management; leadership of curriculum|
|Pupil achievement||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|
|Quality of teaching||Initial teacher training and newly qualified teacher development|
|Behaviour and safety||Behaviour and discipline; attendance|
To be successful in your application, you should have:
- a successful track record of working effectively within your 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 improvements
- excellent communication and interpersonal skills
- an understanding of what constitutes ‘outstanding’ in your field of expertise and the ability and confidence to communicate this
- an understanding of how your specialism and skills can contribute to wider school improvement goals
- an analytical approach in identifying and prioritising needs
- the ability to set and establish new and innovative working practices
- the ability to grow leadership capacity in others
You can also provide supporting evidence gained from completing leadership development opportunities such as:
- the National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership
- the National Professional Qualification for Middle Leadership
- the SSAT lead practitioner accreditation
There is no limit on the number of times a candidate can apply. There is no cost to apply. Candidates may apply to multiple teaching schools, but can only accept designation from one teaching school.
What an SLE does
SLEs focus on developing leadership capacity. While other roles (for example, advanced skills teachers) focused on developing classroom expertise, this role is about developing 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
- facilitating and training
- joint action planning
If selected, you will 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.
The role lasts for 4 years, at which time there will be a review. 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 is no minimum or maximum time commitment. You and your school will need to think carefully about capacity and negotiate your availability together.
There may be payment for specific placements, either from schools receiving support or from other organisations using your services, to help reimburse your school or pay for supply cover. Any payment will be agreed and managed by the headteachers and governors of the schools concerned, in line with statutory guidance.
How the programme works
|Allocation to a teaching school alliance||You will need to identify your nearest teaching school alliance that is recruiting for your specialism. You can check this by contacting the teaching school directly, checking the school’s website or contacting your local teaching and leadership adviser.|
|Placements to support other schools||Each placement will be designed to meet the needs of the supported school. They may involve coaching, mentoring or facilitation skills – there is no set method, but support will always focus on sustainable leadership development and school improvement. You will need to keep your allocated teaching school informed of progress regularly.|
|Access to ongoing support and training||Your teaching school will ensure that there is support available for you where required. Our team will also be on hand to answer any questions you may have.|
|Additional opportunities||As well as supporting other schools, we expect that you will also be able to engage with other areas of work – for example, research activity on behalf of teaching schools or working with national policy makers in relation to particular specialisms.|
There are 2 situations where you have the right to appeal:
- if your initial application is not successful
- if you become an SLE and, when reviewed, are judged to no longer meet the criteria
To make an appeal you should:
- read the
- request an appeals form from the relevant teaching school
- submit the form to the teaching school within 10 working days of receiving the outcome you are appealing (if the outcome is received at the end of term, this period will transfer to the following term)
We encourage you to try to reach an informal resolution with the teaching school before making a formal appeal.
For further information about specialist leaders of education, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact our help desk.
Teaching school and system leader help desk
Telephone 0800 085 0984
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, excluding UK bank holidays.