The Specialist Leader of Education and their role in School to School Support


SLEs are outstanding middle and senior leaders in positions below the head teacher, for example, assistant head teachers, key stage, phase and subject leaders or school business managers, with at least two years' experience in a particular field of expertise. They have the capacity, skills and commitment to support other individuals or teams in leadership positions in other schools. They understand what outstanding leadership practice in their area of specialism looks like and are skilled in helping other leaders achieve it in their own context.

SLE designation builds on the success of the national leader of education (NLE) and local leader of education (LLE) designations by supporting and developing the leadership capacity of peers in other schools. The difference is that SLEs work at middle or senior leadership level rather than headship level. As with the NLE and LLE approaches, the SLE concept is about recognising leaders who are excellent at what they do and are able to help leaders in others schools to improve.

The National College is responsible for the designation and quality assurance of teaching schools, NLEs and LLEs. Teaching schools, in turn, will be responsible for the designation, de-designation, brokering and quality assurance of SLEs.
The year 2011-12 will be a development year for both teaching schools and SLEs. During this year the NCSL aims to designate up to 1,000 SLEs and then build up to 5,000 designations by 2014-15, in line with the expansion of the teaching schools model. Eventually, they plan to have 10,000 designated SLEs, ensuring national coverage.

Above all, this is about meeting the needs and demands of the system, so there is a need to know that SLEs are being actively deployed, not just designated. The NCSL want to see at least half of SLEs deployed within three months of designation. SLEs will be expected to be able to evidence that their work has had a positive impact. Regardless of the type of support delivered, the ultimate aim will always be to contribute significantly to improving outcomes for children and young people by developing the capacity of peer leaders in other schools.