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Becoming an SLE

The Schools’ White Paper, ‘The Importance of Teaching’, introduced the concept of the SLE role in 2011. The role aims to help to improve the quality of school leadership through school-to-school support, ultimately raising standards and improving outcomes for children.

SLEs have the capacity, skills and commitment to support individuals or teams in a similar position in other schools. They understand what outstanding leadership practice in their area of specialism looks like and are skilled in helping leaders achieve it in their own context. Using coaching and facilitation skills, SLEs will build leadership capacity in other schools to ensure improved outcomes for children and young people.

SLEs have a crucial role to play in supporting school to school improvement and will be deployed in a variety of schools in the Alliance and beyond. Deployments will form part of a strategic action plan that supports school improvement plans.


The eligibility criterion for SLEs is set by the DfE. Specialist leaders of education (SLEs) are outstanding middle and senior leaders.  They have at least two years’ leadership experience in a particular field of expertise and although they must be outstanding at what they do, they do not have to come from outstanding schools.  Your headteacher will be asked to confirm that you are in an appropriate role through the application process. 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
  • 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
  • the ability to set and establish new and innovative working practices
  • the ability to grow leadership capacity in others

Further information about eligibility criteria can be found on the DfE Website.