Specialist Leaders of Education

Schools with Schools Specialist Leaders of Education (SLE) are outstanding middle and senior leaders who have the skills to support individuals or teams in similar roles in other schools. They understand what outstanding leadership practice in their area of expertise looks like and are skilled in helping others to achieve it in their own context.

Specialist leaders of education have a significant role to play in raising standards in our schools. This post looks at how they work to support other leaders.

In 2010 the government announced the creation of the SLE role to help raise standards and improve the quality of school leadership through school-to-school support and peer-to-peer learning. This new designation recognises the important role that senior and middle leaders play in improving schools and outcomes for children.

What do Specialist Leaders of Education do? Click here to find out

During its first year, 2011-12, just over 1,000 SLEs were designated and are currently being deployed. The aim is to recruit every year with an eventual total of 10,000 nationwide.  In order to achieve this aspirant SLEs undergo a rigorous application and interview process in order to ensure –

SLEs will:

  • be outstanding practitioners, with at least two year’s experience in a particular field of expertise
  • 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 staff within a single school
  • have a commitment to outreach work, and the capacity to undertake such work
  • have evidence of successfully using coaching and/or facilitation skills to bring about improvement
  • be supported in their application by their headteacher and chair of governors, and be able to be released from their school for a mutually agreed allocation of time

SLEs will also have:

  • excellent communication skills, with the ability 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 and distribute leadership

To explore the ways in which SLEs are being effectively deployed please click here and click here.  Further information is available for aspirant SLEs.

Could your school benefit from an SLE?

We have a number of outstanding SLEs across a wide range of subjects.  Please view our SLE Booklet

If your school requires the support of one of our SLEs please contact Lisa Fathers, Director of Teaching School & Partnerships on 0161 912 5912 or  to discuss your precise needs.


Apply to be an SLE

The school to school support work of the Alliance for Learning continues to grow and we are keen to designate more high calibre colleagues to join our group of fantastic SLEs!

  • Are you an outstanding middle or senior school leader with a particular area of expertise?
  • Do you have the capacity, skills and commitment to support others in similar positions in other schools?
  • Do you want to contribute to improving outcomes for children, with priority likely to be given to supporting the needs of underperforming and challenged schools.

Our recruitment window is now closed but we will be recruiting again later in the academic year.