Specialist Leader of Education

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. They understand what outstanding leadership practice in their area of expertise looks like and are skilled in helping other leaders to achieve it in their own context. SLEs can develop the leadership capacity of others, using coaching or facilitation support that draws on their knowledge and expertise.

The Schools White Paper (2010) introduced the concept of the SLE role to improve the quality of school leadership through school-to-school support and peer-to-peer learning, ultimately raising standards and improving outcomes for children.

  1. Around 2,000 SLEs have already been designated, with the aim of building up to 5,000 by 2014–15, in line with the expansion of the teaching school model. In time, we anticipate 10,000 SLEs to be designated to ensure full national coverage.
  2. While SLEs will be outstanding at what they do, they can come from any school, regardless of the school’s Ofsted grade.
  3. SLEs need to meet strict designation criteria, which can be found in full on the DFE website.
  4. SLEs have expertise in a specific area, for example, a subject area, early years, behaviour or school business management. A list of areas of expertise can be found on the DFE website.
  5. Teaching schools designate SLEs and broker their deployment into other schools.

6. The SLE role has a number of benefits, including:

  • offering credible peer support rooted in current practice and drawing on real experience
  • the sharing and development of outstanding, innovative practice
  • a collaborative, coaching approach, which helps develop other leaders to ensure long-term, sustainable improvement
  • a fresh perspective on specific challenges or issues, as well as specialist knowledge and expertise
  • the opportunity for leaders to learn about different school contexts and systems contributing to continuing professional development (CPD), enhancing leaders’ knowledge, skills and abilities in a variety of ways






Who are our SLEs? 

Denise Heaton

SLE Specialism: Maths

School and Current Role: Arlies Primary School, Tameside. Y6 Teacher, Assistant Head Teacher, Maths Co-ordinator.

To put it succinctly, I love maths. 

In addition to being Maths Lead within my own school, I have engaged in the National Pathfinder course for Maths Specialists through which I have been able to use the coaching, mentoring and organisational skills I learned, to drive many initiatives across school from reception through to KS2. At the heart of all these developments, the main goal is to challenge yet support my colleagues so that they can develop new skills and become more confident and inspirational practitioners.

I was also lucky enough to be selected for the Primary Mathematics Teaching for Mastery Specialist Programme through the NCETM, and have just returned from Shanghai to see Maths Mastery in action. The overall aim of the extended programme is to enable myself and my colleagues to lead professional development, instilling the expertise needed to teach mastery for maths.

My motivation for system leadership comes from: seeing where support could be used; introducing concepts for change and development and then seeing those ideas grow and embed through school until they become an organic part of the system. At the end of the process, organised, confident practitioners and inspired and motivated pupils are a definite reward.



Alex Keane

SLE Specialism: Assessment and English 

School and Current Role: Prestolee Primary School, Deputy Head Teacher & Y4 Teacher.



Kath Mead

SLE Specialism: Curriculum Leadership, Early Years, English, Phonics, PE

School and Current Role: Blackrod Primary, Assistant Head Teacher

My experiences as a teacher span EYFS, Key Stage 1 & Upper Key Stage 2 and during my career I have had roles as as class teacher, subject leader, key stage leader and teaching and learning team leader. I have achieved improving results by articulating a clear vision, managing strategic planning and modelling innovative ideas.

In 2013, I was honoured to be nominated for North West Teacher of the Year in recognition of my achievements during my time at Blackrod Primary School and was awarded a distinction.


Andrea Crompton

SLE Specialism: Business Managment

School and Current Role: Blackrod Anglican Methodist School, School Business Manager

As any current or aspiring School Business Manager will know, the role is both vast and vital in ensuring a school can operate effectively. Dwindling school budgets, Health and Safety requirements, Governance to name a few - all areas of expertise in their own right and ones which schools need to get right.

As an experienced School Business Manager, I have vast experience in:

  • Human Resources
  • Finance and effective budgeting
  • Auditing
  • Governor liaison
  • Line Management
  • Apprenticeship Programme management
  • Policies & procedures including safeguarding and the single central record