Area of Expertise   
Leadership and management
Leadership of continuing professional development (CPD)
School business management and financial management
Leadership of curriculum
Information and communication technology (ICT)
Physical Education
Special educational needs (SEN)
Support for the most able pupils
Initial teacher training (ITT) and newly qualified teacher (NQT) development
Behaviour and discipline

​Who is this programme for?

This programme is for teachers who have held a middle or senior leadership role in a school for at least two years and have a specialism that is included in the list above. See also SLE eligibility criteria and application guidance.

What is involved?
Typically, SLEs will work with middle and senior leaders to:

carry out diagnostic visits
develop action plans, identifying key priorities and SMART targets
provide one-to-one or group support
offer coaching and mentoring support
provide access to resources and training

The ultimate aim of SLEs will always be to contribute significantly to improving the outcomes for children through developing the capacity of peer leaders in other schools.

Information for schools

Specialist Leaders of Education (SLEs) are ‘outstanding’ middle and senior leaders who have the skills to support individuals or teams in similar positions in other schools. To become an SLE, you will need to provide evidence that you understand what outstanding leadership practice in your area of expertise looks like and you know how to support other leaders to do the same in their own context.

Teaching Schools are responsible for designating SLEs, brokering SLE deployments and providing ongoing support.

The Department for Education introduced the SLE concept in their The Importance of Teaching: The Schools White Paper 2010. The SLE role is designed to help improve the quality of school leadership through school-to-school support and peer-to-peer learning, ultimately raising standards and improving the outcomes for children. Find out more 

As an SLE, you will be deployed into schools to develop the leadership capacity of individuals and teams using coaching and/or facilitation that draws on the knowledge and expertise in your specialist area. Your work will contribute to improving outcomes for students in other school settings.

We are also recruiting SLEs to provide support to staff and teams in local schools and academies. We are passionate about supporting school improvement and broadening our network of shared expertise. 

There are currently over 4,900 SLEs in the system. The SLE designation is increasingly becoming recognised as a vital role in school-to-school support and will play an influential part in the self-improving school led system.

What is an SLE?

SLEs support leaders in other schools. They have excellent interpersonal skills, are able to work sensitively and collaboratively with others and have a commitment to outreach work. They understand what outstanding leadership practice in their area of specialism looks like and can help other leaders to achieve it in their own context. 
The SLE role is about developing other middle and senior leaders so that they have the skills to lead their own teams and improve practice in their own schools. This may be done through oneto-one peer coaching or facilitated group support and could involve a variety of activities, such as data analysis, coaching or joint action planning. 

Specialist Leaders of Education

What does the core training involve?

Once you have passed your application and have been successfully designated as an SLE, you will need to undertake the SLE Core Training. This is a required element of the designation, and all SLEs must do the core training before being deployed in their SLE role.You are also are given the opportunity to attend optional enrichment sessions. There is a choice of four 2-hour enrichment sessions, and you can select a maximum of two.

SLE training comprises two parts:

  • Core training day

This provides you with essential information about the role and will equip you with the tools and techniques for effective school-to-school support. It also gives you the opportunity to network with other SLEs.

  • Two optional enrichment sessions:

You are given the opportunity to select two sessions from a choice of four two-hour sessions:

  • Developing others – using the principles of coaching models to provide strategies for getting the best out of a team.
  • Leading and managing organisations – share good practice and develop a plan to improve system leadership in your own school.
  • Developing your leadership potential – how to choose the right leadership style to support others and deal with resistance effectively.
  • Leading teaching and learning – providing the leadership of excellent teaching and learning throughout your organisation.

Training must take place within three months of designation. You must have completed your core training before you can be deployed as a Specialist Leader of Education.