Specialist Leaders of Education

One of the most rewarding aspects of work is the deployment of Specialist Leaders of Education (SLEs). This is because teachers who have been identified as leaders and experts in their field coach and empower colleagues to lead developments in their own schools.

Tidal TSA believe outstanding practice exists within every school and SLEs are trained to work and support  according to their individual identity. We have strengths right across the curriculum and particularly in Early Years. We also have a unique offer within Behaviour and Special Educational Needs – one of the lead schools is a pupil referral unit currently judged outstanding by Ofsted.

The Strategic Leaders for this area of work are Andy Rhodes, Spring Cottage Primary School and Claire Smith, Maybury Primary School.


If you are an experienced middle or senior leader who is interested in supporting leaders in other schools, you might want to apply to be a Specialist Leader of Education. There are currently over 3,800 SLEs working to support schools across the country.

Teaching schools are responsible for the selection and placement of SLEs. This is one part of the government’s plan to give schools a central role in developing a self-improving and sustainable school-led system.

Who can apply

To become a SLE, you need to have been in a leadership role below the Headteacher for at least 2 years. Your Headteacher will be asked to confirm that you are in an appropriate role. Higher level teaching assistants are not eligible to apply.

Ofsted focus Areas of expertise
Leadership and management Academies and academy transition; assessment; leadership of continuing professional development; school business management and financial management; leadership of curriculum
Pupil achievement 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 Initial teacher training and newly qualified teacher development
Behaviour and safety Behaviour and discipline; attendance

You can be from any type or phase of school.

You do not 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 four areas of focus for Ofsted.

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, 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

You can also provide supporting evidence gained from completing leadership development opportunities such as:

There is no cost to apply. Successful applicants will be entitled to some training at no cost to their school. However, the school will have to pay for associated travel or supply cover.