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.

The Schools White Paper (2010) introduced the concept of the SLE role, which helps 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. This designation recognises the important role that many senior and middle leaders play in supporting their peers to develop.

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. Teaching schools designate SLEs and broker their deployment into other schools.

1. While SLEs will be outstanding at what they do, they can come from any school, regardless of the school’s
Ofsted grade. However, the headteacher must agree that the school has the capacity to release them.
2. SLEs need to meet strict designation criteria, which can be found in full on our website.
3. 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 our website.
4. There is no pre-defined time commitment for SLE work because models and types of deployment vary.
5. There are no plans to have a pay scale for SLEs, or a set payment rate for SLE time. Deployment may result in
some funding for the SLE’s school, although this will need to be agreed by the schools involved and by the
appropriate teaching school alliance. Even if remuneration does not take the form of direct funding, it could involve
an exchange of services that may help support or enhance an area of the SLE’s school.
6. Find out more about SLEs online at www.education.gov.uk/nationalcollege/sle