Apply to be SLE

If you’re an experienced middle or senior leader who’s interested in supporting middle and senior leaders in other schools, you may wish to apply to become a Specialist Leader of Education (SLE). 

There are currently approximately 8,000 designated SLEs. Teaching schools and system leaders support the Department for Education’s goal to provide educational excellence everywhere so that every child and young person can access high-quality provision, achieving to the best of their ability regardless of location, prior attainment and background.


What do SLEs do?

Specialist Leaders of Education 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
  • coaching
  • 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.

Read case studies that give examples of the type of work being done by SLEs.

Time commitment

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, arranged by Empower TSA in negotiation with the SLEs own school and the school requiring support.

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 is no additional pay for SLEs undertaking school to school support. There is a charge made by Empower TSA for SLE support in school. The school receiving SLE support pays Empower TSA for your work. We will transfer this payment to the SLE’s school to cover the cost of releasing the SLE to work in another school.  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?

Choose a teaching school alliance to apply to

You’ll need to identify your preferred teaching school alliance that is recruiting for your specialism. You can check this by contacting the teaching school directly or checking the teaching school’s website. Complete an application form and be interviewed/ assessed by the teaching school. If successfully designated, the teaching school will confirm your designation to the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) and confirm the specialisms (areas of expertise) you’ve been designated against.

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’s no set method, but support will always focus on sustainable leadership development and school improvement. Your allocated teaching school will want to be informed of the progress you’re making in your deployment(s).

Access to ongoing support and training

Your teaching school alliance will ensure that there’s 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’ll 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.

How to become a SLE

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, as long as your school has the capacity to release you to work in other schools. You must have at least one specialism from our areas of expertise, which are based on the 4 areas of focus for Ofsted as shown below:

Effectiveness of leadership and management

Academies; leadership of continuing professional development; school business management and financial management; leadership of curriculum

Outcomes for children and other learners

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, learning and assessment

Initial teacher training; assessment

Personal development, behaviour and welfare

Behaviour and discipline; attendance

To become a Specialist Leader of Education, 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

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